Alberta RCMP, along with partners from the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), are warning the public of a fraudulent scam that is circulating throughout Alberta. These scams are referred to as Emergency Scams, or sometimes “Grandparent” or “Grandchild” scams.
These scams often involve a phone call being placed to the victim claiming a loved one is in trouble with the courts or law enforcement and a payment is needed to help them. The suspects will often pretend to be a police officer, judge, or family member. Suspects will usually ask for cash; however, they may also ask for payment in gift cards, bitcoin, or e-transfers. The scammers will then send an associate acting as a courier to pick up the money in person or ask the money be mailed.
The two common themes of these scams are a sense of urgency: the payment must be made immediately or there will be worse consequences; and secrecy: no one can know because it is embarrassing or because the judge has placed a publication ban or “gag order” on the case.
In 2022 Alberta RCMP have received over 150 reports of this type of fraud with a total loss of around $750,000. Not only is there a concern for the amount of money being lost, but a great concern for these couriers showing up in person to collect the cash.
Alberta RCMP, and their partners at CPS and EPS, want to remind Albertans:
· Bail is always paid in person at a courthouse or correctional center;
· Never send money to anyone you don’t know;
· If a person claims to be a police officer or judge, call that police service or court house directly to confirm the situation – police and courts will never demand cash be picked up in person or mailed; and
· Never give out personal information over the phone or online to someone you don’t know—the police or courts will not ask for personal information over the phone.
“We encourage you to talk to family, friends, or loved ones who may be vulnerable to these types of crimes, making sure they know what to watch for,” said Cpl. Sean Milne, Alberta RCMP Serious and Organized Crime Unit. “If they are contacted by a scammer, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed, they shouldn’t keep it secret, and they should reach out for help.”
Should you have fallen victim to this or any other scam, please call your local RCMP or police of jurisdiction and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or 1-888-495-8501).