Scams targeting seniors
March is Fraud Awareness Month. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) warns consumers and businesses to be on the lookout for a variety scams targeting senior citizens in our communities. The scammers are practiced con men that use tactics to befriend, gain trust and even scare seniors into parting with their money, in some cases their life savings.
Here are 3 prominent scams affecting seniors today:
(1) The “Emergency Scam”– The scam is operated by fraudsters claiming to be a family member or a close friend of a family member and advising the potential victim about an urgent situation that requires immediate funds. Common themes have been that the family member was arrested or got into an accident while traveling abroad. Thus fees are required for hospital expenses, or bail.
(2) The “Prize Scam” – Seniors are solicited over the phone or email and advised they are the winner of a large lottery or sweepstakes. Prior to receiving any winnings, the consumer must first pay an upfront fee. No winnings are ever received.
(3) The “Bank Inspector Scam” – Suspect(s) contact seniors by phone advising that they require their assistance to catch a bank employee that “has been stealing money”. The person is instructed to go to their bank and make a cash withdrawal, usually in 100 dollar bills, for amounts in the $5,000.00 dollar range. The person is told not to tell the bank teller what they are doing because the teller may be involved. The senior is instructed to place the cash in an envelope and meet the ‘Investigator’ in a nearby parking lot where the cash is turned over.
How to protect yourself:
- Confirm with other relatives the whereabouts of the family member or friend.
- Police, Judges or legal entities will never request that money be sent through money service business such as Western Union, MoneyGram.
- Never voluntarily give out family members names or information to unknown callers.
- Always question urgent requests for money.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.