Seniors are frequently the target of email and telephone scams but recently in Vancouver, Canada, fraudsters have grown bolder and are showing up at the homes of older adults to collect cash. The grandparent scam, in particular, has leveled up recently. In at least two reported incidents, seniors were scammed out of thousands of dollars after being told their loved one needed the money for an emergency.
According to a recent CTV News report, a man called an older couple living in Vancouver’s West Side telling them their nephew had been in a car accident and needed money to be released from jail. A person then showed up at their home to pick up $8,000 in cash. Another elderly Kitsilano resident reported she was told her grandson had been in a car accident and arrested and she would need to put up $9,000 for bail. A man also came to her home to pick up the cash.
Police are uncertain if these scams are part of an organized group working in the area or perpetrated by a single person. Similar scams have been reported in other British Columbia cities and older adults are being warned to be very cautious about dealing with any stranger asking for money.
The “grandparent scam” is a common grift that exploits the close bond between a grandparent and a grandchild. The newest twist on this scam is for a person to collect cash at the home of the victim rather than asking for money to be sent by wire transfer or by purchasing gift cards. Not only are seniors bilked out of their savings, but now a thief knows where a vulnerable older adult lives.
Protect Yourself from Scams
- Take a moment, check your facts. Get off the phone and call back the person asking for money to verify their identity.
- Check with other family members if you get a call claiming to be representing a loved one.
- Never give your address, personal information, or cash to anyone who contacts you.
- Anyone asking for a gift card or money order is a scammer.
- Check social media for privacy settings and be careful not to reveal any personal identifiers online.
- Report any suspected scams to authorities.