Sarnia-Lambton residents are being warned about what's being called an "alarming rise" in the number of Emergency Grandparent Scams in Canada.
The Sarnia Police Service recently issued a public release advising residents to be cautious when answering phone calls from unknown numbers.
It said that from January 1 to June 30, 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received reports totalling a staggering $9.2 million in victim losses.
With just over four months left in the year, they anticipate the losses will greatly exceed the 2022 reported losses, which totalled $9.4 million.
It's estimated that only five to 10 per cent of victims report scams and frauds to the CAFC or law enforcement.
The CAFC said seniors lose on average 33% more than other demographics.
Police said typically, the scammer will impersonate someone's grandchild and ask them for money to get out of trouble.
Often, they will say they were in a car collision with a rental car, or they are under arrest and in jail in another city or country. The scammer tells the victim they do not want their parents to know and ask the victim to keep it a secret.
To make the story seem more credible, the caller might also put another person on the phone to act like a police officer, bail bondsperson or lawyer.
In some instances, the victim will withdraw funds from their bank account and wire money to the “grandchild.” The money is often sent through a money transfer service where the scammer can then pick it up at any location across the world. The scammer might also arrange for a courier to come to the victim’s home to collect the money.
To learn more about the Emergency-Grandparent scams and other frauds, visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.
If you are or believe you may be a victim of fraud or know someone who may have been, contact the Sarnia Police Service to report. Please also report such crimes to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.