Two men from Quebec are charged with defrauding a 94-year-old Hamilton man out of thousands of dollars in a grandparent scam.
Hamilton police said the senior began receiving calls Nov. 1 from a man impersonating an RCMP officer. The man claimed the 94-year-old’s grandson had been arrested for having a large quantity of drugs in his vehicle.
The caller allegedly told the victim his grandson was in custody and that he needed to pay $120,000 bond to be released, police said. Another man, posing as the grandson, then came on the phone pleading with the victim to pay.
The 94-year-old, worried about his grandson, agreed to pay but only had a portion available. When he went to the bank to attempt to take out the money, the bank stepped in and restricted how much he could take out, police said.
Later that day, a woman pretending to be a court courier attended the victim’s home to collect the funds. She allegedly told the victim there was a “gag order” and he was not allowed to tell anyone what happened or his grandson would go back to jail.
On Nov. 2, the victim received more calls demanding the remainder of the bond money. He was directed to place the rest of the cash in an envelope and to leave it at an undisclosed location, police said. It was at this point that the victim became suspicious and called police.
The victim’s losses were around $9,000.
Detectives from the financial crimes unit arrested and charged two men from Laval, Que. A 19-year-old and a 21-year-old each face a charge of fraud over $5,000 and the 19-year-old faces an additional charge of personate a peace officer.
Police are looking for at least one additional suspect, believed to be a woman.
Det. Rob Hardy of the financial crimes unit said the biggest thing people can do to protect themselves from any type of fraud is to slow down.
“Fraudsters work on pressure,” he said. “Pressuring you to act quickly and confuse you … stop take a breath and compose yourself.”
Grandparent scams and other similar frauds are rampant. Fraudsters can easily find information about people online and can be very effective in pressuring people. Police have been working with each other and with other institutions, such as banks, to raise awareness and spot victims.
Hardy said people should trust their gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right. He also said people can always call police and ask.
“Is it’s OK to call us,” he said. “We understand that (seniors sometimes) don’t want to bother the police, but we want to stop this from happening.”
Police never collect money from people, including for court.
“If somebody calls and says they are police and they have your grandson or nephew in jail, it’s a scam full stop,” he said.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre tracks recent fraud and scams and has a number of useful resources that Hardy encouraged community members to check out. This includes an index of scams and tips on how to prevent being victimized.
Hardy said the investigation in this case is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Angela Abrams at 905-546-4603 or Staff Sgt. Oliver Mann 905-546-3841.
To remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.