“Emergency Scam” fraud warning and Crime Reduction Tips – Cornwall Ontario – December 18, 2010

Daniel C. Parkinson Chief of Police

Cornwall ON – Though the “Emergency Scam” (or sometimes referred to as the “Grandparent Scam”) has been around for years, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) warns the public to be on alert after noting a marked increase in the number of complaints in the last two months.

In the typical scenario, a grandparent receives a phone call from a con-artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren.  The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. Typically they claim being in a car accident, trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money. .

Victims don’t verify the story until after the money has been sent as the caller specifically asks that they do not want other relatives to know what has happened by asking “Can you please help me?  I’m in jail (or in the hospital / or in some type of financial need). But don’t tell Dad.  He would kill me if he found out, please send the money ASAP. I’m scared”

Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends money by a money transfer company such as Money Gram or Western Union.

Variations on the sting exist such as an old neighbour, a friend of the family etc. but predominantly the emergency scam is directed toward grandparents.

In 2007, 128 consumers reported this scam to the CAFC. From January to August 31st 2008, 317 complaints were reported to the Center with the majority reported (155 complaints) in July and August 2008.

Crime Reduction Tips

Protect yourself by learning to recognize fraud by:

–       Asking the caller to provide you with detailed, written information of the situation that he/she are in.

–       Take the time to think about the call.  Scam artists pressure you for an immediate answer.  Collect your thoughts before acting.

–       Obtain a call-back number and track all communications.

–       Recognize that fraudsters use wire service or courier methods for receipt of payments.

–       Contact the Cornwall Community Police Service for advice.

–       Review all of your bank and credit card statements.

–       Make an annual review of your credit rating.

Locally, the Cornwall Community Police Service reports that there have been10 incidents in the past year.  Please contact the Crime Reduction/Community Partnerships Bureau for more information by dialing (613) 933-5000, ext. 2600.

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