Vancouver police are seeking the public's help in identifying a person of interest in a troubling new scam that has already victimized multiple senior Vancouver residents.
The scam's perpetrators trick seniors into thinking their loved ones have been arrested and convince them to hand over thousands of dollars for legal fees.
“It’s not uncommon for scammers to target the elderly by contacting them by mail, telephone, or online,” says constable Tania Visintin, VPD. “What’s different and concerning is that fraudsters are now showing up at the victims’ doorsteps to collect cash. It’s brazen, and we’re concerned about people's safety.”
The scam was first reported to the VPD on Jan.12, when a west side couple in their 70s received a call from a man who claimed their nephew had been in a car accident and needed $8,000 to get out of jail. The fraudster then came to the victims’ home and picked up the money.
Later that same day, a 75-year-old Kitsilano resident received a similar call telling her that her grandson had been in a car accident, was in jail, and needed $9,000 for bail. The suspect also came to her residence and the victim handed over the money.
“Both cases are now being investigated by VPD’s Financial Crime Unit,” said Visintin, adding it’s unknown if the frauds are being perpetrated by a single suspect or an organized group.
“We’re reaching out to other police agencies to determine how far-reaching this scam is. Until we know more, we urge everyone to be cautious about strangers who ask for money,” Visintin continued.
Vancouver Police have released a video of one of the interactions and encourage anyone with information to contact investigators at 604-717-0503.