The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch (ARB) and Serious Fraud Office Ontario (SFO), in concert with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) have provided another awareness newsletter in this annual Fraud Prevention Month campaign. This campaign is held every March to inform and educate the public on the importance of protecting yourself from being a victim of fraud. This year’s theme is impersonation, and focuses on scams where fraudsters will claim to be government officials, critical infrastructure companies, and even law enforcement officials. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre will be sharing advice through our website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
This bulletin was prepared to warn the public and, more specifically, seniors about ongoing emergency and grandparent scams. Suspects contact seniors or family members claiming that their grandchild or family member was in an accident, charged with an offence such as a DUI and drug offences or, in some cases, is ill with COVID-19. Suspects will claim that they are law enforcement officials, lawyers and even impersonate the grandchild/family member. They will proceed to advise the victim that a payment for supposed bail or fine is required immediately in order for the family member to avoid going to jail. If the victim agrees to pay the requested amount, suspects will arrange to pick up the funds in person or will ask the victim to send cash in the mail.
Warning Signs – How to protect yourself
• If you receive a suspicious phone call claiming to be from a family member in an emergency situation, hang up the phone and contact them directly.
• If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official, hang up and call your police directly.
• Listen to that inner voice that is screaming at you: “This doesn’t sound right”.
• Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites for targeting purposes. Suspects can easily gather names and details about your loved ones.
• Be suspicious of telephone calls that require you to immediately take action and request bail money for a family member in distress.
• Be careful with caller ID numbers that look familiar. Scammers use technology to disguise the actual number they are calling from (spoof) and make it appear as a trusted phone number.
Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. If not a victim, report it to the CAFC anyway.