Grandmother outwits scammers who demanded nearly $10K, helps police nab suspects
Windsor, Ont., police say a quick-thinking community hero helped them nab two individuals involved in a grandparents scam — an effort to bilk seniors out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be their grandchildren.
Officers presented Bonnie Bednarik with a small gift at a news conference on Thursday afternoon after they charged a 19-year-old from Windsor and a 22-year-old from Tecumseh with fraud over $5,000.
The force subsequently recovered money the suspects had allegedly acquired during two previous scams, according to a news release.
Bednarik received a phone call on Wednesday from a man professing to be her grandson, she said at the news conference.
"I said, 'Who is this?' And he said, 'Come on. It's your grandson.'"
He said he was in jail. He said he got into an accident with his friend Dave. It was Dave's car. He found pills in the glove compartment. He was arrested and he was in jail and he needed the bond money. … And he had a few tears, and he told me he loved me. - Bonnie Bednarik
It was the third such call she had received in a year, she said.
Bednarik called the man by a name that was not, in fact, her grandson's name.
"He said he was in jail," she said. "He said he got into an accident with his friend, Dave. It was Dave's car. He found pills in the glove compartment. He was arrested, and he was in jail, and he needed the bond money. … And he had a few tears, and he told me he loved me."
The man told Bednarik he needed $9,300, she said.
She bought time by telling him that she needed to call her bank and make sure that she could take out that amount of money all at once.
The man agreed to call back in 15 minutes.
Bednarik used that time to phone police.
"And then I bought another hour because I told him my husband wasn't home, and I needed the car to go get the money," she said.
Police, meanwhile, set up "static surveillance" at Bednarik's home and intercepted the men as they approached the house to pick up the cash.
Officers urge those targeted to call police
"I was so happy to hear that they caught them," Bednarik said.
Sgt. Rob Durling of the Windsor Police Service's financial crimes unit told reporters that it may not always have the resources to respond to fraud calls the way it responded to Benarik's, but it urged people to report them all the same.
"I want people to call us so that way, we know what's going on, and then obviously we can take whatever course of action we're going to take."
Bednarik urged seniors never to give money to strangers or reveal the real names of their grandchildren to them, and to call police about any suspicious calls.
Windsor police have recorded a high number of calls like the one Bednarik received, Durling said, and it's not clear if they are all related.
"I've seen over a dozen of these similar occurrences, and obviously it's going to continue because unfortunately crime does pay."