Categories: Local News

RCMP warn of phone scam

The St. Albert RCMP is warning about another telephone scam that has already cost one senior $4,500.

The RCMP has had four reports since Aug 18 about the scam, which appears to prey on seniors. The scheme sees fraudsters phone and pretend to be a senior’s grandchild or other family member.

They claim to have run into legal trouble and need bail money or have been involved in a car accident and have to pay for expenses. The callers are usually calling from out of province or out of country and the person on the other line typically sounds stressed.

The fraudsters then appeal to the victim for a wire transfer of a few thousand dollars.

Of the four reports, two were recognized as frauds and the victim hung up before calling police, said Const. Janice Schoepp with the St. Albert RCMP.

One of the targets sent $4,500 through Western Union and another narrowly missed disaster when employees at a Safeway with a wire transfer service managed to stop the funds.

The intended victim called their grandson as they were sending the money and then realized they were being misled.

Schoepp said the employees there did a tremendous job avoiding a bad situation.

“The people there went above and beyond and stopped the transfer.”

Schoepp said the RCMP has posted flyers about the scam at Safeway and at other locations where Western Union funds can be sent. The employees are also aware of the scam and are trying to prevent it when possible, but not all customers explain why they are sending funds.

So far all of the targets of the scam have been elderly people, but police are not sure how the fraudsters are identifying them, she said. The woman who was victimized was told, by someone who claimed to be her grandson, that he was in an accident and needed the funds to go to court.

Unlike a lot of phone and email scams this isn’t a case of too good to be true, but more a scheme that preys on people’s good intentions, Schoepp added.

Anyone who receives similar calls should take the time and try to contact their relatives and confirm the story, she advised. “Take the time to try and contact them.”

The fraudsters often ask their victims not to contact parents because they will be in trouble for getting arrested or crashing the car.

While there have been four reports to the detachment, police suspect there may be other cases that have not been called in, especially if the fraud was recognized, Schoepp said, encouraging people to step forward.

More information about this and other scams is available at www.phonebusters.com and people can also report scams they have encountered.

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