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'Everything sounded so real': A Vancouver senior's believable encounter with scammers

The "grandparent scam" has become one of the top 10 scams in North America.
Vancouver senior resident Anni Von Der Linda was targeted by scammers on Jan. 31, 2023, claiming to be her grandson and asking for $10,000 in bail money.

Vancouver residents continue to fall victim to a notorious bail money scam.

Locals lost over $700,000 to the scam in 2022 alone and it has become one of the top 10 scams in North America.

One Vancouver senior says that her encounter with the scam was very believable. 

'Everything sounded so real'

Anni Von Der Linde, 87, says she received a phone call on a Tuesday (Jan. 31) afternoon from someone claiming to be her grandson, Leo. 

The caller told her that he was on his way home from the doctor when he was stopped by a police officer who, then found marijuana in his car. Von Der Linde was told that she had to go to the bank and take out $10,000 cash in bail money, which would later be collected at her home. 

She complied and was about to leave her home when she thought to call Leo's father. He told her that Leo was, in fact, at home and had never gone to the doctor. 

Von Der Linde couldn't believe how close she had been to believing the scammer. "Everything sounded so real," she tells V.I.A. "It makes me angry that they prey on us old people and that I nearly fell for it." 

How to identify the bail money scam

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has a webpage dedicated to fraud prevention with warnings against a number of commonly reported scams, including the widespread bail money scam. 

The bail money scam, also known as the "grandparent scam," preys on a grandparent's love and concern for their grandchild, causing people to lose between $8,000 and $15,000 each time they are targeted. Some victims are defrauded multiple times. 

As described in Von Der Linde's encounter, the scammers will identify themselves as a lawyer, police officer, government official, or even the victim's grandchild, niece, or nephew.

The scenario typically involves a car accident or a family member being in jail and urgently needing bail money. 

The scammer may ask victims to not discuss the bail money request with anyone, including a bank teller, and will send an "official" to the victim's home to pick up the money. In some cases the victim may be asked to courier the money out of the province.  

"The pressure to act fast, along with confusing instructions, can make it hard to focus and rationalize what is happening," warns VPD. 

What to do if you suspect a scam

VPD instructs those who suspect that they are dealing with a scammer to hang up and call the family member mentioned, or another trusted individual, to ensure their safety before agreeing to hand over any money. 

If the scammers have your address and are sending someone to pick up the money, or you feel your immediate safety is threatened, call 911 immediately. 

Those who have lost money to the scam should call the VPD at 604-717-3321.