Nanaimo RCMP switchboard overwhelmed with grandparent scam calls

Nanaimo RCMP switchboard overwhelmed with grandparent scam calls
File photo.

Nanaimo RCMP has received an overwhelming number of reports about the notorious grandparent scam making its way around the city, with more than 20 reports from the public in the span of a few hours.

The grandparent scam involves fraudsters calling older residents for money, some posing as family members in need.

RCMP said most of the reports made were for information purposes, however, some said they lost anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000.

“Our switchboard was lit up with call after call from the public asking if their loved one had been arrested and was in jail,” R/Cst Gary O’Brien said.

“While the scenario varied somewhat, it involved their grandson being arrested after a motor vehicle accident involving a pregnant woman. To be released from jail, a large sum of money had to be delivered immediately.”

Police said one person received a call from a girl who they believed was their niece and involved the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to manipulate her voice to make them believe it was her.

In this call, the “niece” said that she had been arrested and was in jail in the Dominican Republic.

Police said a second person then came on the line purporting to work at the Canadian Consulate, adding a woman even called from a local chartered bank after being refused money from the bank.

In most phone calls, the call would abruptly end if the fraudster was questioned.

The victim then called the Nanaimo RCMP to receive assurance that it was actually a scam.

RCMP said the most common scenarios residents reported hearing from fraudsters were:

  •  Needing bail money because they’ve been arrested.
  •  Being in a car accident.
  •  Trouble returning to the country.

The fraudsters claimed to be law enforcement officials or lawyers or would impersonate a family member. Police said they would use urgency and threats to convince potential victims to give them money and possibly arrange to pick up the agreed-upon cash from their homes.

RCMP encourages anyone who receives one of these calls to simply hang up.

If you are conned into providing money, police said you should contact your local detachment and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.


Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!