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an older man wearing glasses and a blue shirt on the phone holding up his credit card

Grandparent Scams Bleeding Seniors Dry

One man has been arrested for allegedly defrauding an older woman

On April 26, 2023, the Cochrane RCMP received reports from two locals that were scammed out of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, these Cochranites were the victims of grandparent scams.

In a grandparent scam, the fraudster will call a senior and pretend to be a grandchild or family member in a crisis like an accident or robbery.

“They’re posing as different people, they’re posing as family members, they’re quite convincing in their stories as to why they need money,”  Cochrane RCMP’s Cst. Bonnie Sauve told Cochrane Now.

To make it believable, fraudsters may even pull information from an actual family member’s social media profile to use during the phone call.

These scammers then ask for money to get out of their crisis. For example, a scammer may pose as a grandchild stuck in a foreign country without money.

The ‘grandchild’ then asks for money to return home. Grandparent scammers prey on the vulnerability of older people. Unfortunately, these types of scams are common across the province.

a mugshot of nigel nyembwe from Ottawa
22-year-old Nigel Nyembwe from Ottawa who defrauded a woman in Foothills County | RCMP | Global News

The next day, Okotoks RCMP arrested 22-year-old Nigel Nyembwe from Ottawa for defrauding an older woman from Foothills County.

Nyembwe was charged after a woman received a call from a fraudster posing as a lawyer. Allegedly, the caller claimed to be a ‘lawyer’ helping the woman’s great-nephew who was in jail and needed bail money.

Thankfully, the victim’s money was recovered from the man’s temporary residence in Calgary. Nyembwe has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud over $5,000.

Additional charges are pending, and Nyembwe is set to appear in court in Cochrane on Tuesday.

On February 1, 2023, the RCMP, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), and Ontario Provincial Police launched a fraud prevention campaign to raise awareness about increasing grandparent scams.

According to the CAFC, there were 849 victims of scam calls in Alberta in 2022, totalling more than $5 million in losses.

And that these statistics only include reported incidents. It is estimated that only 5-10 percent of scams are reported by victims, which makes these statistics even more staggering.

“There’s more people after more money…at least in the cases that I’m aware of, scammers are getting much, much better at picking targets who they’ll be able to get more money out of,” Vanessa Iafolla, a fraud consultant and instructor at Wilfrid Laurier told CBC News.

Grandparent scams are one of the most popular, but there are others. From gem scams to pyramid scams, fraudsters will go to great lengths to steal your money.

So take the necessary precautions and protect yourself by verifying the identity of anyone asking for money.

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