Police are reminding the public to be wary of a scam that is once again sweeping its way across Chatham-Kent.
While a moving scam was identified by police a few weeks ago, the latest scam targets grandparents.
Chatham-Kent police say they continue to receive reports of suspicious phone calls from people purporting to be a family member or the family member’s lawyer. Police are issuing a fraud warning due to the scheme, often called the “grandparent scam.”
“The person claims to have been arrested, mugged, had a car accident, is stuck in another province (or) country and has no way to get home,” police stated. “Regardless of the reason, they ask for money. Fraudsters will use panic, threatening language, or an aggressive tone to scare you into making payments.”
This person, sometimes claiming to be a grandchild, says they are in trouble with the police and requires money for bail. They often ask the victim not to tell anyone and need the money immediately. Scammers will use panic, threatening language or an aggressive tone to scare you into making payments.
According to Chatham-Kent Police Public Information Officer Lynette Hodder, most of the police agencies in Southwestern Ontario have seen an increase in fraud complaints recently, particularly the grandparent scam.
“Some stories we’ve heard here in Chatham-Kent involve a collision with a pregnant woman, and the grandchild is held for bail, and bail money is required. A collision with a friend and drugs were found in the car, and an impaired driving charge where the grandchild has, again, been held for bail as well as other offences like using a cellphone,” Hodder explained.
In Chatham-Kent, there have been ten grandparent scam complaints over the past week and a half alone, and Hodder said, in most cases, money is lost. The complaints that the Chatham-Kent Police Service is investigating exceed $50,000.
Police urge people receiving the call never to send money. Instead, police are asking to take the time to think, despite the caller making it sound like time is of the essence.
“Contact the family member in question. Emotions might be running high, but take the time to check. Ask questions only family members would know,” police said. “Call someone you trust or the police for an opinion about the call.”
Because the fraudsters often use burner phones not registered to a particular individual, Hodder said it is difficult to trace the calls and the source of the scams. She added collaboration is occurring with other police agencies in the region about the scam incidents they’ve dealt with and discussing the evidence that’s been collected.
Police say a key indicator you’ve received a scam call is if they ask for payment with iTunes or gift cards.
Police offer the following facts about the criminal justice system:
Police only hold people for bail for particular reasons. If a deposit is required for bail, it will be through the court system. The exchange will only occur at the courthouse.
Police and the Ontario court of justice will never visit your home or send a courier to collect money from you.
Police and the court will never ask you for gift cards as payment.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News