‘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
The Liberals have spent years trying to pass online streaming legislation and now the current iteration, known as Bill C-11, is closer than ever to passing. With a potential parliamentary showdown ahead, here's what you need to know about how the contentious Broadcasting Act bill got to this stage.
Though you won't be able to sit on the old, cracked pleather benches and take in the thick smell of gravy and fries, while the gentle sound of clanging dishes provides the soundtrack for your lunch, Zellers plans to roll out food trucks for those 'craving a taste of nostalgia.'
The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to decide Friday, whether the COVID-19 pandemic still qualifies for an international emergency declaration title— a decision that will involve factoring in how the virus and its variants are impacting countries around the world, says an infectious disease expert.
Pamela Anderson is addressing discussion about a story regarding her 'Home Improvement' co-star Tim Allen that is part of her new memoir, 'Love Pamela.'
The national Net-Zero Advisory Body released 25 recommendations Friday for how Canada can adjust its climate plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — a goal that the country is not on track to reach right now, according to the report.
The federal government posted a budgetary deficit of $3.6 billion in the first eight months of the fiscal year.
What looks like a giant teddy bear’s face peering into space from the surface of Mars is actually a satellite image of some craters and a circular fracture, scientists say.
Progressive and State Farm, two of America's largest auto insurers, are refusing to write policies in certain cities for some older Hyundai and Kia models that have been deemed too easy to steal, according to one of the insurance companies and media reports.
BookTok is all abuzz with the news that Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni will be starring in a movie based on the bestselling romance novel, "It Ends With Us."
An Edmonton woman and her daughter whose catalytic converter was stolen in 2022 have won $25,000 for a product police believe will deter thieves from stealing the automotive part.
The Alberta government says homeowners will still be seeing an energy rebate on their February utility bills, but it won't be as much as it was last month.
One of the biggest tenants in Edmonton City Centre (ECC) mall is closing its doors for good.
Dangerous avalanche conditions in B.C.'s backcountry have turned deadly — with five people killed in the province this season alone.
Yellow lights illuminated Vancouver City Hall overnight ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27.
A Victoria man was in near disbelief after he won a $100,000 lottery prize.
Thursday’s wet and windy storm has knocked out power to thousands of people in the Maritimes, most of which are in Nova Scotia.
A fourth person has been arrested in the murder of a man in Saint John, N.B., last summer and now police say they are looking for a fifth person in connection with the case.
A jury has delivered a guilty verdict in the 2020 murder of a man from the Yarmouth, N.S., area.
The Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a person was found dead along a street just outside the Harbour City on Friday morning.
A Vancouver Island city councillor is on a mandatory leave of absence after he was charged with assault. Court documents show Coun. David Frisch was charged with assault against an intimate partner following an incident on Jan. 7.
A Victoria man was in near disbelief after he won a $100,000 lottery prize.
'A Band-Aid solution': Ford responds to increased police presence on the TTC following surge in violence
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said and increased police presence on the TTC “is great,” but not enough of a solution to resolve the issue that has left some customers anxious to ride the transit.
Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a knee sprain, the team announced Friday.
4 people charged, $800k in cash seized after RCMP bust alleged 'large-scale' drug importation network
Four Toronto residents have been charged and about $3 million worth of cash and goods have been seized after the RCMP busted an alleged 'large-scale' drug importation network.
Angela Orosz is one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust. On Dec. 21, 1944, she was born in a concentration camp. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazis and collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. More than two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population was killed.
Three more people have been arrested in connection with a hammer attack on a 16-year-old boy Monday outside a school in Montreal North, police said Friday.
Montreal to reconfigure Sainte-Marie one-way streets to enhance safety after girl dies in hit-and-run
The City of Montreal says it will reconfigure some roads into one-way streets in the Sainte-Marie neighbourhood to make them safer for pedestrians following last month's hit-and-run that killed a young girl.
Police increase downtown presence, access to Parliament Hill restricted on anniversary of 'Freedom Convoy' protest
Ottawa police and Bylaw Services are telling residents and visitors they will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to parking, noise and fireworks violations downtown this weekend, on the one-year anniversary of the 'Freedom Convoy' demonstration.
'Inexcusable and deeply troubling:' Ottawa police condemn Tyre Nichols' death as world braces for release of video
As the world awaits the release of a police video showing five officers viciously beating Tyre Nichols, Ottawa police have issued a statement condemning his death.
Ontario's ministry of labour is investigating after a man died in a workplace incident near Prescott, Ont.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have shut down a section of Perth Road 122 north of Stratford, Ont. as officers investigate a sudden death.
An Elmira woman born with Pectus Excavatum, a condition where her ribcage is caved in, is getting set for a life-changing surgery in May.
Residents had a chance to ask questions and raise concerns about the hybrid shelter planned for Erbs Road at a community meeting in Waterloo on Thursday night.
The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival is on the move.
A Saskatchewan mother says her 13-year-old daughter is being shamed for her past mental health challenges.
Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) says a shredder was the cause of a fire at a document storage and destruction company early Friday.
The manager of a Tim Hortons in North Bay was wrong to fire a long-term employee because of her physical limitations, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled.
The body of a 29-year-old Sudbury nurse was recovered Wednesday night from a lake near Parry Sound after her snowmobile went through the ice, police say.
Police seized about $20,000 in narcotics in a raid of a northern Ontario home on Wednesday and now six people are facing charges.
Several schools in southeast Manitoba were closed Friday after a round of threatening voicemails came in over the last week.
Manitoba's finance minister is stepping down to run for a seat in the House of Commons.
There are hints the municipal funding freeze imposed by the former Pallister Government could be thawing.
A Saskatchewan man who had his charges stayed based on pandemic delays in court will be headed back for trial, after a ruling from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.
Three downtown business organizations are advocating for the City of Regina to locate a new multi-purpose events centre and central library branch in the downtown core.
A Regina man is facing 33 charges after the Regina Police Service (RPS) said it completed a lengthy investigation into auto thefts, break and enters and weapons offenses.