As the holidays approach, Barrie Police are reminding the public that fraudsters will use any opportunity – even the festive season – to take advantage of others. At this time of year, grandparents might expect a call from a grandchild they haven’t seen in a while, but don’t let the holiday spirit keep you from recognizing the signs of a scam
The Barrie Police Fraud Unit is seeing a recent increase in reports of Grandparent Scam calls. In these calls, the fraudster will either claim to be the victim’s grandchild or a court official. The caller then explains that the victim’s grandchild is in trouble and has been arrested and requests a large cash payment to secure bail.
Barrie Police remind everyone that if you receive a call like this, the best course of action is to reach out to the family member that you believe is in trouble, their parents, or another trusted person. Fraudsters may tell you that you can’t tell anyone, that you can’t confirm the grandchild’s well-being and that you don’t need to bother following up with police. This is simply not true, and it is a clear sign that the call is a fraud.
Tips for Spotting Fraud
Request for Cash for Bail
In Canada, there is no cash bail system. You will never be required to provide cash, gift cards, e-transfer, or any other form of immediate payment to secure bail.
A sense of urgency
The scam may be encouraging you to take up the offer before time runs out, or it may be threatening you with a negative action if you don’t act quickly enough. No matter how pressured you feel, there is always time to reach out for confirmation. No reputable company or organization will penalize you for taking time to verify their claims.
For example, in the Grandparent Scam, the caller may tell you there is only a small window of time that the bail offer is valid.
Asking for personal information
Just because someone who has reached out to you has some personal information about you, doesn’t mean you have to confirm any additional information. If they claim to be from a known organization, reach out to that organization separately and confirm they were trying to contact you.
For example, in the Grandparent Scam, the caller may address the victim as “Grandma” or “Grandpa,” never by name. They may also not refer to the grandchild by name, instead telling you they’re calling about your grandchild, hoping you will then provide the name for them.
It sounds too good to be true
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Investment opportunities, online romances, high-paying job offers may all be exciting to receive but talk to trusted friends and family members, and do some research before jumping in.
For example, in the Grandparent Scam, the caller may tell you that this is an offer not available to everyone. They may tell you that with your payment, you can clear your grandchild’s record. If it sounds like an unbelievable offer, it’s most likely a fraud.
The Barrie Police Fraud Unit would like to hear from anyone who may have been a victim of a Grandparent Scam, or who may have more information on these scams. Please contact the Barrie Police at 705-725-7025. Fraud can also be reported online at https://www.barriepolice.ca/citizens-online-reporting/