‘Brazen’ grandparent scam in Saanich sees fraudster at seniors’ doorsteps: police

CHEK
File photo.

Saanich police are warning the public of what they’re calling a “brazen” grandparent scam that sees fraudsters show up on seniors’ doorsteps to collect cash.

Police on Wednesday said three incidents had happened in the last two days. The victims, who were tricked into thinking a relative was in trouble, were duped out of more than $27,000 combined.

“So far, we’ve had three separate incidents reported. Two of the three have resulted in loss of money,” according to Insp. Damien Kowalewich in an interview with CHEK News.

“One was over $20,000, the other was over $7,000, and in the third case, the [victim] contacted someone for advice and declined to give money.”

Police say this scam involves a caller or person who targets an older person and claims to be a relative in trouble. The scammer asks the victim for money to help them resolve the issue.

Kowalewich says oftentimes the scammers say they’re a niece or nephew, so he’s encouraging potential victims to call another family member to verify the claims are, in fact, true.

“The storyline can range anywhere from they’re arrested to they’re stuck at the airport. Really anything they could come up with to tug at your heartstrings,” he said.

‘Showing up to collect the money’

But in recent incidents, scammers have been showing up on doorsteps. This is unusual, says Kowalewich, because these scams are known to be done over the phone or online.

“This would be categorized more as a brazen grandparent scam. We don’t typically see a human being showing up to collect the money,” noted Kowalewich.

“Police officers who I’ve spoken with…say they’re seeing this on the mainland, the in-person pickup. It looks like this has moved over to Vancouver Island,” he added.

“We want people to know that you should not be giving people money when they show up at your house saying a family member is in trouble.”

On Wednesday, police described the woman who picked up the money in the two incidents.

They say she’s Caucasian and in her 20s with long blonde hair. She was seen in a 2023 White Kia Sportage SUV associated with a rental company and with B.C. plate TR906N.

“She came back several times for different denominations of cash, totalling over $20,000,” said Kowalewich. “She’s identifying herself as a courier, in this case, to pick up the money. We’re working hard to identify her and move forward with criminal charges.”

‘Call someone you trust’

The incidents happened just days before Fraud Prevention Month (March), say police.

Kowalewich is asking the public to “slow down” if being asked to hand over money because “scammers talk fast. They use elaborate scams telling people they’re a government agency or police.”

He reiterates, “Take it from us, slow down. If you’re uncomfortable making the decision, call someone you trust. Call a real relative, call someone for advice. You should not be giving people money when they show up at your house saying a family member is in trouble.”

Detectives from Saanich Police’s Major Crime Unit are currently investigating.

Anyone affected by this scam or with information about the suspect described is asked to call police at 250-475-4321.

More information about the grandparent scam is here.

A 2023 White Kia Sportage SUV is pictured.

Ethan Morneau

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