‘It smelled pretty sour’: Albertans lose over $3.5 million due to grandparent scam
Alberta police are once again warning people about a scam that has caused people in the province to collectively lose $3.5 million dollars this year.
Calgary resident David Savage was almost one of those victims.
A few months ago, Savage was sitting in his kitchen when he got a call from someone claiming to be his grandson.
He told Savage he was arrested for hitting a pregnant woman while texting and driving.
“I said ‘you’ve got to be kidding me! What happened?'” Savage told CTV News.
“It terrified me that he could possibly be in this situation.”
Savage’s so-called grandson then asked him for $9,000 in cash for bail and told him someone could come by the house to pick it up right away.
“I mean it smelled pretty sour. That’s just not the way things work to my knowledge anyways,” he said, noting that the caller’s voice didn’t sound like his grandson but they knew his grandson’s first name.
Savage hung up and called his daughter to see what she knew.
“My daughter said she thought it was a scam so, I got off the phone and I had Jackson’s cell phone number so I phoned him,” he said.
It turned out to be just that — a scam that targets grandparents.
URGENCY AND SECRECY
While the storylines scammers use can differ, there are two common themes: urgency and secrecy.
Victims are told to make the payment immediately or there will be consequences. They are also told no one can know because it’s embarrassing or because the judge has placed a publication ban or “gag order” on the case.
This year, Albertans have collectively lost over $3.5 million to the grandparent scam.
In Calgary alone, 128 victims have lost more than $1.8 million.
Eight people have been charged in connection to it in Calgary this year.
“September saw a sharp rise in this fraud with 93 reported incidents in which 35 victims lost money to the scammers. In October, we noticed a decrease in the number of reported grandparent scam incidents,” said Staff Sgt. Geoff Gawlinski with the Calgary Police Service.
“However, we know that fraudsters are being clever in their tactics and that it’s possible for anyone to fall victim to a fraud or scam.”
NATION-WIDE AND BEYOND
Cpl. Sean Milne with the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit said the problem is nation-wide and beyond.
“The grandparent scam is not something unique to Canada, it does occur globally. It may sometimes occur in waves, just as scammers simply pick a different area in the phone book or a different area code that they operate out of,” he said.
Milne said fraudsters find out personal details about the victim and their loved ones online through social media and other platforms to make it more believable.
“It could be as simple as who keeps their name in the phonebook anymore,” he said.
“In many cases, the scammers will maintain and sell lists of people they’ve obtained information from before. So, a person may be contacted for an unrelated scam and have their personal information taken down and that information in turn passed on to a different group of scammers who may be running grandparent scams.”
Grandparent scam tips
TIPS FOR SENIORS
Police warn seniors who get a call like this to hang up and not provide personal information or send money to them.
They should also call their family members right away, especially the one in question to confirm the situation, and report the crime to police.
“If they are contacted by a scammer, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed, they shouldn’t keep it secret and they should ask for help,” Milne said.
“These types of frauds are frequently underreported. So, even if the amount seems insignificant or you caught on to a scam before any money was lost, please let us know.”
Police also remind people that bail is always paid in-person at a courthouse or correctional centre, and that police and courts will never demand cash be picked up in-person or mailed.
As for Savage, he was never contacted by the fraudster again, but he knows not everyone is as lucky.
“You cannot be too careful. And I was almost not too careful,” he said.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Canadian police chiefs condemned on Friday the death of a Black man who was savagely beaten by police during a traffic stop in the United States, saying the officers involved must be held accountable.
When the cold and snow have people hunkering down, these outdoor enthusiasts find motivation in braving the Canadian winter through community and sport.
The Memphis police chief on Saturday disbanded the unit whose officers beat to death Tyre Nichols as the nation and the city struggled to come to grips with video showing police pummelling the Black motorist.
BC Emergency Health Services saw a slight decline in 911 calls for overdose and drug toxicity last year, but some areas saw a dramatic increase, and the death rate doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
According to a new study, showing university students the health risks of vaping through experts and personal testimonies can help deter them from using e-cigarettes.
Health Canada says it will continue to recommend COVID-19 prevention drug, Evulsheld, despite U.S. FDA pulling back its emergency use authorization due to concerns around its efficacy against Omicron subvariant 'Kraken.'
The German ambassador to Canada says Germany will not become 'a party to the conflict' in Ukraine, despite it and several other countries announcing they'll answer President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's pleas for tanks, possibly increasing the risk of Russian escalation.
W5 goes deep into the narco heartland to interview a commander with one of Mexico's most brutal cartels. W5's documentary 'Narco Avocados' airs Saturday at 7 pm on CTV.
When selling a home, Canadians may be exempted from paying capital gains tax on a residential property -- if it's their principal residence. On CTVNews.ca, personal finance contributor Christopher Liew explains what's determined as a principal residence, and what properties are eligible for the exemption.
An organization helping Ukrainian newcomers settle into their new lives in Edmonton is hosting a furniture donation blitz to help restock their warehouse.
An orphaned lynx is getting some help surviving, thanks to an Alberta wildlife rehabilitation organization.
A fire broke out in an underground parkade in downtown Vancouver Saturday evening and soon spread to the office building above.
Advocates are predicting this year's Metro Vancouver Homeless Count will be higher than previous years' due to lingering impacts from the pandemic, job losses and inflation.
Some faculty members at Cape Breton University have walked off the job. Their strike started Friday, with the faculty's union saying the administration has disrespected it at every turn, leading to a large number of labour grievances.
A day after Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced a second medical school for the province, people around Cape Breton are still celebrating.
The arrival of two new cranes in Saint John, N.B. is changing the city’s skyline and doubling the port’s capacity.
Road closures are planned for downtown Victoria on Sunday as lion dancers take to the streets to celebrate Chinese New Year.
A Victoria nurse who drank alcohol at his workplace and encouraged subordinates to do the same has been reprimanded by his professional college.
Before we can appreciate the important role a plush toy named Monkey Guy has played in Elaine Tanner’s life, we need go back to when people started calling her Mighty Mouse.
The transformation of a house in downtown Toronto – from a multi-unit with below market rent to a luxury single-family home – is not an anomaly. But rather, housing and legal experts say it is emblematic of why a housing crisis continues to grip the city.
A man allegedly assaulted riders on a TTC streetcar in downtown Toronto on Saturday, according to Toronto police.
While the deadline to file your taxes is months away, there are some personal tax credits Ontarians may qualify for that require some time pilfering through receipts to get them.
Parents at a private school on Montreal's South Shore received a disturbing letter Friday night informing them a teacher had been arrested in connection with child pornography. Gilles Croteau is a math teacher at Collège Trinité, a high school in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville.
'It's very frustrating, and it's scary': Kanesatake Grand Chief calling for better security from the SQ
Some Indigenous communities in Quebec that are patrolled by provincial police say the established system does not fully meet security needs and needs improvement.
A woman in her 30s was stabbed and seriously injured in Montreal's Lachine borough Saturday morning. A 47-year-old man was arrested. Montreal police (SPVM) could not confirm the relationship between the victim and suspect.
15 vehicles towed, dozens of tickets issued as rally marks one-year anniversary of 'Freedom Convoy' in Ottawa
Ottawa police and Bylaw Services officers issued 81 parking tickets and 20 Provincial Offences Notices on Saturday, as hundreds of people marked the one-year anniversary of the 'Freedom Convoy'.
WINTER WEATHER TRAVEL ADVISORY
WINTER WEATHER TRAVEL ADVISORY | Here's when Ottawa will see 10 to 15 cm of snow this weekend
More snow is on the way this weekend, as city crews continue to clean up the nearly 30 cm that has fallen since Wednesday.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Ottawa police see a rise in sextortion cases this winter
Ottawa police are warning the public of the dangers of texting explicit images to people on social media platforms, after seeing a spike in sextortion cases this winter.
'I'm very happy about the decision': Resident reacts to judge dismissing region’s bid for encampment injunction
The Region of Waterloo has lost a court bid for an injunction to evict residents of an encampment on municipally owned land at Victoria Street North and Weber Street West in Kitchener.
A drag queen show in Elora will continue Saturday night as planned, despite organizers saying concerns were raised after online comments targeted the event.
With art displays and activities to bring out the best of winter for a one-day festival of fun, Winterloo has returned after three years of pandemic alterations.
The Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) called in the fire department to inspect a building in the city’s northwest early Saturday morning.
An Arctic air mass is settling in over the eastern prairies, and Environment Canada is warning of extreme cold conditions.
Former Saskatchewan Roughrider and 1989 Grey Cup Champion, David Albright, has died. He was 63.
Northern supporters of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ mark the anniversary of last winter's demonstrations across Canada by holding a gathering of their own this weekend in North Bay.
More than 50 people came out on Saturday for a walk, organized by the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury through the Laurentian University 'green space.' The 200 hectare piece of land has been a concern for many, given the questions around the university's financial stability and debts.
As extreme cold weather brings wind chill values nearing -40°C, it's impacting everything from winter recreation to the city's most vulnerable population.
Two men face assault charges after an apartment stabbing in North Point Douglas Friday.
Winnipeg police have made multiple arrests in several drug busts on Friday.
A local market in Regina is highlighting the growing trend of buying vintage clothes, shoes and more.
Police around the Queen City had a busy start to the weekend, as two vehicles were caught speeding heavily in the span of 24 hours.