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‘Emergency’ scam targeting seniors resurfaces in White Rock

At least two residents field calls asking for bail money for family member

White Rock RCMP are investigating after a local senior reported being duped by a caller looking for bail money for her grandson.

Const. Chantal Sears said she couldn’t comment on the particulars given the ongoing investigation, however, the senior reached out to Peace Arch News in the hopes of saving others from similar grief.

“I lost a lot of money, because I believed it,” the woman told PAN, explaining that the caller had told her that her grandson had been in an accident and was being held responsible.

A friend had a similar experience five years ago, she added, but avoided losses after recalling a newspaper article warning of such scams. The friend began posing some probing questions, and the caller hung up, the senior said.

Unfortunately, “I fell for it and I’m telling all of my friends to be careful.”

READ MORE: White Rock RCMP offer tips after ‘sophisticated’ fraud

Another White Rock resident said he, too, was almost duped by a similar call that he fielded on Dec. 8.

The man, who did not want to be identified, said he nearly took the bait after the “lawyer” on the other end of the line handed the phone to a distressed man who professed he was “scared… knew he was in a lot of trouble” after blowing .09 following a rear-end collision in Vancouver.

The troubled man’s voice reminded the resident of a call he received from his son many years ago, following the tragic death of a friend.

“This sounded just like him,” the resident said of the “scared” voice he heard Dec. 8. “Just a coincidence, but that’s what got me listening to the whole spiel.”

The resident told the man who he thought was his son that he would “set bail as soon as possible.”

He began to feel something was amiss, however, when the so-called lawyer started talking about making arrangements for his associate to receive the funds.

“They wanted me to bring cash,” the resident said. “A red light went on in my head. I said, ‘this sounds like a scam – why cash?’

“There was some kind of muttering and then he hung up.”

While he couldn’t immediately reach his son after that, the man learned shortly that all was indeed well.

He described the experience as “disconcerting,” and suspects others may also be being targeted.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) reports that such ‘emergency’ scams “prey on your fear of a loved one being hurt or in trouble.”

“Grandparents may be particularly vulnerable,” information at continues.

“The scammer pretends to be their grandchild and begs the grandparent not to tell their parents that they’re in trouble. As a result, the grandparent doesn’t find out until after they’ve sent the money that their grandchild was not the person who asked for help.”

Victims should report the crime to police, the site notes. It’s also encouraged that anyone who is targeted, regardless of whether they fall for the scam, report the occurrence to the CAFC.

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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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