The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Fraud Unit would once again like to inform the public of several scams that are targeting our city. Police have recently received an increase in the amount of these type of complaints.
Emergency Parent/Grandparent Scam
This scam has been around for some time and is still active and targeting seniors. In a typical “emergency” scam, the victim receives a phone call or e-mail from someone claiming to be a friend or relative, like a grandchild, is in distress. The caller or e-mailer indicates that they are in some kind of trouble, such as being in a car crash, they need money for bail, or they are having trouble returning from a foreign country. The fraudster specifically asks that the victims not tell other relatives. You may get a call from two people, one pretending to be your grandchild and the other pretending to be either a police officer or a lawyer. Your “grandchild” asks questions during the call, getting victims to volunteer personal information. Victims (often seniors) generally don’t verify the story until after their money has been sent through a wire transfer service or they have given access to personal banking or credit card information.
To guard against becoming a victim, police advise you to first check with another family member or trusted friend to verify the information BEFORE sending money by Money Gram or Western Union or providing credit card information by phone or e-mail. It is vitally important that the incident be reported every time it occurs to allow police to investigate and find the perpetrators.
Reminder regarding telemarketing scams and mail fraud/identity theft
Criminals will hide behind the anonymity of the telephone and mail to try and swindle thousands of Canadians each year. Criminals tend to use the same selling strategies as legitimate companies to lure people. If you get a phone call, email or letter that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Common Telemarketing Scams
- You’ve won a prize in a contest you don’t recall entering
- You’re offered an investment with huge returns
- You can buy a ticket into a pool that cannot lose
- You’ve won something but you must send payment for shipping, taxes, duties, etc.
- You must give confidential bank or credit card information
- You are told to send cash or money order only
- The caller is very excited about your opportunity or wants to be your best friend
- You are pressured to act immediately on a large purchase
Prevention Tips and Reporting Scams and Frauds
It is not rude to hang up on a caller if you have doubts or suspicions. Criminal Telemarketers are persistent and relentless – hanging up on them is your best defense.
You have the right to request written information, to check references and to think over an offer. If the caller won’t oblige you, hang up. Remember that legitimate telemarketers have nothing to hide
Never provide personal or financial information over the phone
If you are a victim of fraud or have any question, contact the Sault Ste. Marie Fraud Unit at 705-949-6300 ext 388.