Grandmother victim of “grandparent scam” – One man charged by RCMP “A” Division’s Commercial Crime Section
OTTAWA – July 14, 2011 – The Commercial Crime Section of the RCMP’s “A” Division (NCR) has charged one man in relation to a “grandparent scam.” An Ottawa woman received a phone call from a person claiming to be her grandson, he told her that he was in jail and needed money to be released. Not wanting to leave him sitting in jail, the woman immediately went to a money transfer service business and sent him $3,600. Later that evening, she spoke to her actual grandson who told her that he was not the one who called her, nor had he asked for funds. She subsequently reported the fraud.
Kwame Frimpong, 47, from the Montreal area, was charged last Friday, July 8, with fraud under $5,000 (section 380 (1) of the Criminal Code), identity theft (section 402.2 (1) of the Criminal Code), and identity fraud (section 403 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code).
Emergency or “Grandparent” Scam – Protect senior relatives and friends
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) warns the public to be on alert after noting a marked increase in the number of complaints about the “Emergency Scam” (which is sometimes referred to as the “Grandparent Scam”) in the last two months. Protect your relatives and friends who could easily be targeted by speaking with them about this specific scam.
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 they’ve been in a car accident, they’ve had 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 says that they do not want other relatives to know what has happened. They will ask “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 the money via a money transfer company.
There are variations to the scam in that the caller could be an old neighbour, a friend of the family, etc., but predominantly, the emergency scam is directed toward grandparents.
Offer the following to suggestions to your relatives or friends who could be targeted:
- If they receive this type of phone call, ask them to provide as few details as possible to the caller. Instead, they should ask the caller to provide his/her name.
- They should make contact with family members of the supposed relative who is requesting the money transfer. Most times, they’ll find out that the relative is safe and the request is a fraud.
From January to May 2011, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received a total of 1,537 complaints from Canadian consumers about the Emergency/Grandparent Scam; of those 251 are victims with a total reported dollar loss of $873,537.31. In Ontario during the same time frame, 881 complaints were received. Of these 143 were victims with a total reported dollar loss of $475,860.58.
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (previously Phonebusters) was established in January 1993 and is jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Competition Bureau Canada.
CAFC is a national call centre where victims can report fraud complaints. The information is used to assist in investigations.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre plays a key role in educating the public about specific fraudulent mass marketing and identity theft pitches. It also helps to prevent similar crimes from taking place in the future through its ability to identify emerging trends.
Read about common scams or “pitches” at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.
– 30 –
Cst. Julie Morel, Media Relations Officer
Communication and Public Relations Unit
RCMP “A” Division
Tel : 613-993-1248