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Telephone Scammers Target Village Seniors

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

Lions Bay residents are reporting a spate of telephone scam calls in recent days, as unscrupulous fraudsters attempt to extort funds from unsuspecting recipients.

Sometimes called the 'Grandparent Scam', the calls are most often directed at people using landlines.

Village resident Rebecca Caspersen describes a call she received - one of three in a single morning. While not a senior herself, Rebecca had heard about the scam, and decided to hear the caller out.

"The caller said 'Hi Grandma' and asked if I knew who he was. I pretended he sounded like an imaginary grandson named Fred. He immediately agreed that he was Fred, and then told me a long story that involved driving in his friend's car and being pulled over by the police, who then found cannabis in the trunk. While the caller claimed the drugs were not his, and that police gave him a drug test which he passed, he still needed money to help his friend. It wasn't until I insisted on phoning his mother that he hung up."

Rebecca's call bears remarkable similarities to one received by Rose Dudley earlier today. In her case, after listening to the long story involving the drug bust, Rose asked the caller if he remembered his grandfather's name. "He hung up when I asked the question," she says. "That's the key - ask a question that puts them on the spot."

Luckily, both Rebecca and Rose were familiar with this scam, and not taken in. However, this was only because they both have friends or relatives who have been victimized in the past.

"A friend of mine was called by someone claiming to be her granddaughter, who had been in an accident. My friend was so worried for the person she thought was her real granddaughter that she sent a considerable sum to these people," Rose explains. "And as a result, she's had to take out a line of credit that will take a long time to pay back."

The Canadian Bankers' Association (CBA) has an excellent online resource addressing the Grandparent Scam HERE. The CBA's site describes the fraud, outlines the best steps to take to avoid being targeted and also offers suggestions for protecting others. Asking the caller to repeat the story, pressing them for details and never giving any information yourself are key suggestions. And of course, hanging up on potential scammers is always an option.

Common sense is a good indicator, too. "His story was completely full of holes," says Rebecca, who adds that she only kept the caller on the line to waste his time. "If he's talking to me, he's not scamming someone else."

Due to the sheer volume of cases like these, the police are often unwilling to follow up if no money has exchanged hands. The best recourse appears to be spreading the word. Tell your friends, and offer to help older relatives understand the dangers that can come from sharing too much information over the telephone.

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