The grandparent scam, also called the emergency scam, isn’t new. But attempts at this scam are on the rise, so it’s more important than ever to be aware of the risks and how to spot the signs.
This is how the grandparent scam works:
Impersonating a friend, neighbour or family member - often a grandchild - a fraudster phones in a panic saying they’re in trouble and that they need money sent to them immediately. Often the scenario involves an accident or arrest while travelling abroad. Often the fraudster will say “Don't tell my parents” and “You're the only one who can help.” Before the victim can recognize the voice, the phone is handed over to an accomplice pretending to be their attorney or representative.
Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends the money requested and often doesn’t verify the story until later. But once the money is sent, there is often no way to get it back.
“To avoid becoming a victim of the grandparent scam, or any scam, never share information with an unknown caller and make sure to verify who you’re speaking to and the legitimacy of their story before you complete any transactions involving money,” said Kevin Purkiss, vice president, fraud management at RBC.
Canadians who believe they have been a victim of fraud should contact their financial institution immediately and report the details of the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.