The Collingwood and The Blue Mountains OPP have arrested two individuals in relation to two Emergency/Grandparent fraud investigations.
On May 2, 2023, the Collingwood and The Blue Mountains Community Street Crime Unit entered into two separate emergency/grandparent scam investigations. In one report, the victim was contacted by someone claiming to be a grandson – a nephew for the other incident. Both victims then spoke to the same individual (once claiming to be a lawyer) who attempted to collect $7000. It was arranged to have a bailiff attend both residences to collect the funds. Since scams were suspected, both victims contacted police. Later that same day, two individuals were arrested and charged.
Amine Dridi, 18, of Laval, Quebec, and Johnny Kostopoulos, 19, of Sainte-Therese, Quebec, were both charged with:
• Fraud over $5000, two counts
They were both were held for a Bail Hearing.
Thankfully, due to the victims’ quick thinking and the OPP proactively raising awareness amongst seniors throughout the Collingwood area, the suspects were unable to complete the scams.
Source: The Little Black Book of Scams, Competition Bureau Canada
Emergency frauds, also known as the grandparent scam, usually target loving grandparents, taking advantage of their emotions to rob them of their money. The typical scam starts with the victim receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild. The “grandchild” goes on to say they’re in trouble-common misfortunes include having been in a car accident, charged with an offence or in legal peril, or trouble returning home from a foreign country-and they need money immediately.
The scammer will advise the victim that a payment for supposed bail, legal fees or fine is required immediately. If the victim agrees to pay the requested amount, the caller will ask the victim to send cash in the mail or through courier services. They’ll also swear the victim to secrecy.
This deeply concerning trend has suspects obtaining the victim’s address, and physically attending the residence to collect the funds, posing as a courier or representative of the court.
One variation of this ploy features two people on the phone, one pretending to be a grandchild and the other a police officer or lawyer. In other cases, the scammer will pretend to be an old neighbour or a family friend in trouble.
Tips to protect yourself:
• Take time to verify the story. Scammers are counting on you wanting to quickly help your loved one in an emergency.
• 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.
• Ask the person on the phone questions that only your loved one would be able to answer and verify their identity before taking steps to help.
• Never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust.
• Never give out any personal information to the caller.
• 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.
• Listen to that inner voice that is screaming at you: “This doesn’t sound right.”
• 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.
If you know an elderly person, please reach out to them and have a conversation on what to do if they get a phone call like this.
For more information on this and other common scams in Canada, check out the Competition Bureau Canada’s The Little Black Book of Scams: https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04333.html
For additional information on ongoing scams in Canada and to report fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact police.