Red Deer, Alta. - Red Deer RCMP are warning citizens of a fraud specifically targeted at grandparents. On Mar. 3 Red Deer RCMP received a report of a bail scam targeted at a Red Deer senior. The fraud was very similar to occurrences that have been reported across Canada in the last few weeks.
In the Red Deer incident, the suspect contacted a senior pretending to be their grandchild. The suspect stated that he had been arrested in the United States and needed bail money. The suspect warned the victim that there was a “gag order” posted on the bond and that they must not tell anyone about the money.
The scam became more elaborate as the victim received calls from persons impersonating both American and Canadian police officers. The victim was instructed to withdraw cash and informed a courier would pick it up from their residence later that day. Over the course of several days, the victim was contacted multiple times and instructed to withdraw more money to assist their grandson with his legal costs. Ultimately, the victim was defrauded of $50,000.
“These fraudsters are highly-skilled at manipulation and use fear, panic, guilt and empathy to prey on people,” says Cst. Nadeau of the Red Deer RCMP. “Their techniques are elaborate and quite convincing. They often search social media for information to enhance their credibility and knowledge of their victim.”
Red Deer RCMP provide the following tips to recognize impersonation fraud and avoid becoming a victim:
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Fraudsters use high-pressure tactics like creating a sense of urgency or secrecy to cloud your judgement.
- Verify the caller. Hang up and call the person or business that the caller is claiming to be – even when the caller is claiming to be a police officer.
- Don’t be secretive. Fraudsters will pressure you to lie to your bank, the police or family about what is happening. Financial institutions will often intervene if customers withdraw large quantities of cash to ensure they are not being victimized. Fraudsters often coach their victims to say they are doing home renovations, purchasing a used car, or provide other legitimate reasons for the large cash withdrawals. This is a big red flag.
- Do your research. New scams are invented daily, but likely someone has already experienced it and reported it. Call or visit the Canadian Antifraud Centre website to read up on what scams are currently “trending”.
- Never give out personal information. Beware of calls where you are asked to provide your name, address, birthdate, Social Insurance Number, credit card or banking information, and other personal family details.
- Be careful about what you share on social media. Even limited information on profiles can provide a wealth of opportunity for fraudsters. Be wary of how sharing pictures, connecting with family members or joining groups may make you more vulnerable.
If you believe you have been defrauded or know someone who has, contact the Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575 or your local police service. You should also report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). The CAFC collects information on fraud and identity theft across Canada.
Red Deer RCMP
File # 2022-267137