Prairie Post (East Edition)

Grandparen­t scam warning from Lethbridge police

- Contribute­d

Lethbridge Police are warning the public after several cases where fraudsters used the grandparen­t scam to defraud local seniors.

Over the past week three Lethbridge residents were victimized with losses totaling approximat­ely $26,000. Police are asking the public to be aware of this scam and take steps to share informatio­n with their loved ones in the hopes of preventing further victimizat­ion.

There are currently active investigat­ions throughout Alberta involving a group who has defrauded victims in multiple jurisdicti­ons using this scam.

The emergency scam, or grandparen­t scam as it’s often called, involves fraudsters typically targeting seniors by calling and pretending to be a family member – usually a grandchild – claiming they are in some sort of trouble and need money immediatel­y. The caller may also pretend to be a police officer or lawyer acting on the grandchild’s behalf. They will ask for cash and then send an associate, posing as a police officer, bail bondsman or some other official, to collect the money. They may also seek payment in the form of gift cards, bitcoin or e-transfer. Victims are given a variety of reasons why they have to keep quiet and not speak to anyone about the situation.

In the Lethbridge cases, each victim was told their loved one had been involved in a collision, was in police custody and required cash to pay their bail.

LPS is encouragin­g residents to talk with their older relatives about what to do if they receive a scam call.

• Always verify the caller’s identity and the legitimacy of their story . Call the grandchild directly and if they can’t be reached, contact their parents, siblings or another relative who can help verify the story •

If a caller claims to be a police officer, lawyer, judge or other official call the police station or courthouse directly to confirm their identity and the legitimacy of the call

• Do not use any phone numbers or other contact details provided by the caller to try and verify informatio­n

• Do not provide money, gift cards, bitcoin or any other form of payment to someone you do not know

Bail is always paid in person at the police station, courthouse or correction­al centre and receipt of payment is provided. Police and court officials will never attend someone’s home to pick-up cash

• Never disclose any personal informatio­n over the phone to someone you don’t know

Anyone who has fallen victim to the grandparen­t scam and not yet reported it, is asked to call police at 403-328-4444. •

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