Vancouver police say scammers defraud local seniors out of millions of dollars

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Vancouver police
An elderly woman speaks on phone / Shutterstock

Vancouver police are warning of a new scam that has defrauded at least five seniors out of millions of dollars.

Police say fraudsters using a landline to call the victim, pretend to be either an employee of a jewelry store or a police officer and, in a complex scam, have defrauded their victims out of $3.1 million.

Vancouver police Sgt. Jason Robillard says the victim is advised their credit card has been used for a large purchase or that police need their help with a fraud investigation, and is told to hang up and call 911.

But while the victim follows that advice, the scammer stays on the line playing a recorded dial tone so the senior thinks the first call has been disconnected and the second call is linking them with authorities.

Instead, the call goes directly to the fraudster, who pretends to be either a police officer or a bank representative and, in a series of back and forth calls, convinces the victim to transfer significant amounts of money to specific accounts overseas.

Robillard says at least five similar cases have been reported, bilking seniors of more than $3 million, but he says investigators have recovered about $2.5 million of the stolen cash.

Robillard says awareness is key to preventing such scams.

“Consider using a cell phone or make sure you are disconnected after you hang up,” he says.