On Your Side: March is Fraud Awareness Month
Published Monday, March 19, 2012 1:09PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:34PM EDT
MONTREAL- There is no shortage of scams where people are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting victims, especially the elderly.
Bunny Mason says her father was almost robbed of $500 a few weeks ago when he received a phone call from a crying young man.
"They said your grandson has been involved in an accident, a bad accident, and the people that he's hit are en route to the airport. They have to leave the country.and [your son] has to come up with $500 which he doesn't have. and we need you to wire us that money," said Mason.
Mason's father rushed into action, but it was only because of an alert taxi driver and a teller at Western Union that he did not send the money.
When Mason learned about what had happened she called police.
"I didn't even tell them the story. They word for word gave me the same story because it had previously happened to another lady and she had actually lost $2000," said Mason.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Jacques Rainville says the so-called "grandparent" scam has already bilked countless American seniors and is now targeting Canadians.
"The elderly people are more targeted by these fraudsters because they're more vulnerable," said Rainville.
Montreal is well-known as a centre for telephone scam artists, and last month the RCMP dismantled a call centre on the West Island manned by five people believed to be involved in the grandparent scam.
Police also seized $11,000 in cash, a money-counting machine, multiple cell phones and prepaid phone cards.
The arrests were due to the RCMP's C.O.L.T. unit . Based in Montreal, the RMCP team up with other Canadian police forces, Canada Border Services Agency and American law enforcement.
Tips to prevent being scammed
- Never respond to a phone call telling you your grandchild or someone in your family is in trouble and needs immediate money.
- Never respond to anyone who says they need to perform maintenance on your internet connection or banking information.
- Never respond to anyone who tells you you have to send money to claim a prize, an inheritance, or other ' free' service.
For more information on fraud, and to report scams, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a website.
People can also call a 24-hour bilingual hotline at 1-888-495-8501.