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$18K lost as reports of 'brazen' brand of 'grandparent scam' spike in Burnaby

Fraudsters posing as lawyers are coming right to victims' homes to collect cash they say grandchildren need to pay bond after an accident, according to Burnaby RCMP.
Four cases of the so-called 'grandparent scam' have been reported to Burnaby RCMP since Nov. 8.

Burnaby RCMP has seen a spike in a more brazen version of the so-called “grandparent scam” this month.

Victims of grandparent scams or emergency scams get a phone call from someone telling them their grandchild or other loved one is in legal trouble and needs money for bail.

Four such frauds, representing a combined loss of $18,000, have been reported in Burnaby this month, according to Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Laura Hirst.

The approach used each time featured a scammer posing as a lawyer representing a loved one who needs money to pay bond after being involved in a car crash.

Usually, such scammers get victims wire the cash, but two incidents reported in Burnaby saw the fraudster come to the victims’ homes.

On another occasion, the fraudster set up a meeting place, but an alert bank teller who suspected the scam stopped the transaction when the victim went to withdraw money.

“It seems the fraudsters are being more brazen,” Hirst said. “Before, maybe we would hear about things happening online. There’s more anonymity behind a computer screen whereas, now, you’re meeting this person face to face.”

While there has been an increase in reports of the scam, Hirst said it often goes unreported.

“There’s a lot of shame for individuals who become victims of this,” she said.

Hirst is encouraging everyone to discuss the scam with their loved ones, especially seniors, who are most frequently targeted.

Tips for responding to phone calls claiming a loved one is in trouble and needs money:

  • Hang up and do not provide any information to the caller
  • Do not send money to the caller
  • Call your family members right away, especially the family member in question
  • Report this information to police

Report all scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 and Burnaby RCMP at 604-646-9999.

For more information please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor