An Ontario man is facing charges for defrauding a southern Alberta woman of thousands of dollars this week in a grandparent scam where he allegedly told the victim a relative needed money to get out of jail.
Okotoks RCMP said in a statement that it received a complaint Thursday regarding the scam. The victim, an elderly Foothills County woman, reported that she got a phone call from someone saying they were a lawyer, her great-nephew was in jail and he required bail money.
Before the RCMP started an investigation, Okotoks officers were able to identify the suspect as a 22-year-old man from Ottawa, the statement said. In a search of the man's temporary residence in Calgary, officers were able to recover the money taken from the victim.
Investigators say evidence uncovered later suggested there are more victims. Anyone with information about the scheme is asked to call Okotoks RCMP at 403-995-6400.
The suspect is facing two charges — fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud over $5,000. More charges are also pending, RCMP said.
The suspect is set to remain in custody ahead of a hearing in Cochrane on May 2.
Last year, phone scammers stole more than $5.4 million from 849 victims in Alberta, data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre shows.
Specifically, grandparent scams took more than a million dollars from Albertans in 2022, a significant increase compared with recent years.
Experts say that scam callers, no matter the subject of their scheme, will often create a time crunch scenario to dissuade potential victims from speaking to other people.
Those who believe they might be targeted in a scam are encouraged to follow up with other sources and verify information before making any financial moves.