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Lethbridge seniors targeted by scammers, police say

Lethbridge police say they've received multiple reports from residents who have been scammed recently. Officials say the losses total more than $26,000. Lethbridge police say they've received multiple reports from residents who have been scammed recently. Officials say the losses total more than $26,000.
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An increasing number of Lethbridge seniors are being targeted by scammers and police are warning the public to take precautions.

Officials say over the past week, they've had reports from three residents whose losses to scammers total more than $26,000.

The emergency scam or grandparent scam usually involves a situation where fraudsters contact victims over the phone, pretending to be a family member – usually a grandchild – and say they are in trouble and need money.

"The caller may also pretend to be a police officer or lawyer acting on the grandchild's behalf," police said in a release. "They will ask for cash and then send an associate, posing as a police officer, bail bondsman or some other official, to collect the money. They may also seek payment in the form of gift cards, bitcoin or e-transfer."

Lethbridge police say it's also believed that a single group of individuals may be responsible.

"There are currently active investigations throughout Alberta involving a group who has defrauded victims in multiple jurisdictions using this scam."

Officials also say the same story has been used on all of the Lethbridge cases – that their loved one was involved in a crash, had been arrested and needed money to pay for bail.

In order to prevent further scams, Lethbridge police encourage residents to speak with their elderly relatives.

They suggest:

  • Always verifying the identity of anyone who calls them to make sure they know who they're speaking to and if what they're saying is the truth;
  • If the caller claims to be with law enforcement or employed by the court, hang up and call the police station or courthouse directly for accurate information;
  • Never using any phone numbers provided by the scammers to verify information;
  • Never giving money, gift cards or any form of payment to anyone you don't know; and
  • Never sharing any personal information over the phone with anyone you don't know.

Police also want residents to understand that bail money is always paid in person at the police station, courthouse or correctional facility.

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

Anyone who believes they've been scammed is encouraged to come forward and speak to police by calling 403-328-4444.

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