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Central Alberta man arrested in connection with grandparent scam

An undated photo showing a Lethbridge Police Service vehicle. (Supplied) An undated photo showing a Lethbridge Police Service vehicle. (Supplied)

Lethbridge police have arrested a Vermilion, Alta., man in connection with a "grandparent scam" that took aim at a local senior.

On April 15, authorities were notified by a 75-year-old woman who said she'd been contacted by a man who said he was a lawyer.

The individual told her that her grandson had been involved in a crash and had been arrested, so he needed money for bail.

"The fake lawyer advised he would send someone to collect the money and instructed the victim to write an alphanumeric code on the envelope," police said in a news release.

"She subsequently provided $3,400 cash to a male who attended her home."

While the male was at the victim's home, police say the woman received another call from the fake lawyer who said the payment wouldn't be enough and more was needed.

After being instructed to acquire more money and being cautioned not to contact anyone about the issue, the victim instead called a family member, who confirmed her grandson was safe and not in any trouble.

The victim then contacted police, who attended the victim's home.

"While police were on scene, the victim received another call advising someone would be coming back to her home to obtain the additional funds. A male arrived at the victim's home a short time later to collect the cash and was arrested without incident," police said.

Police found the suspect's vehicle nearby and traced him to a local motel, where police obtained search warrants for his room.

"Police recovered a portion of the cash the victim had provided after bills in the same denominations were located in the motel room," officials said, adding that the suspect likely came to Lethbridge to engage in criminal activity.

Dimitar Stamatov, 41, is charged with fraud under $5,000, attempted fraud over $5,000 and false pretenses.

He was released from custody following a hearing and is expected back in court on May 14.

The investigation remains ongoing as police believe there are additional suspects and victims.

"(Police) are asking anyone who has experienced similar circumstances to come forward. Call 403-328-4444 if you believe you have been victimized in a grandparent scam or any other fraud."

In the meantime, police commend the victim for coming forward and informing police about the scam.

Police are advising the public about grandparent scams and offer the following advice about them:

Always verify the identity of callers and the legitimacy of their story. This can be done by calling another family member;

If the caller claims to be a police officer or other official, hang up and call the police station or courthouse directly;

Do not use any phone calls or other contact details provided by scammers;

Do not provide money, gift cards or any other form of payment to someone you don't know; and

Do not provide any personal information to anyone you don't know.

Police also say that bail is always paid in person at the police station, courthouse or correctional centre and a receipt of payment is always provided.

"Police and court officials will never attend someone's home to pick up cash." Top Stories

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