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OPP warn of rise in 'grandparent scams' and how to protect yourself

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On Wednesday morning, members of the Ontario Provincial Police West Region held a news conference to educate the public on the rise of “grandparent scams” and how to prevent more people from falling victim to scams.

OPP have responded to 348 incidents involving emergency scams across Ontario in 2022. Many of those cases originated from the West Region in Lambton, Essex and Oxford counties, according to police.

In 2022 the Canadian Fraud Centre (CFC) received $530 million in reported fraud losses, said Det. Const. John Armit, with the Anti-Rackets Branch in Ottawa.

“That's a 40 per cent increase from 2021, where we had $380 million reported from victims' losses in Canada,” Armit added.

That’s only the reported cases. There could be more victims, as police explained many stay silent due to embarrassment or fear.

“Anybody can be victimized but it is targeted towards older adults the majority of the time,” said Const. Erin Fraser, from the OPP’s Crime Prevention - Serious Fraud Office.

Experts explained that typical scams can be a victim receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one who needs help.

For example, the caller could say that the person’s loved one was involved in an emergency.

Then the caller will demand money for legal fees, bail, fines, or other amounts owed.

Scammers will often have victims withdraw cash or have the victim send money through a courier.

“A person is not only left feeling the financial hardship but also the emotional effects, feelings of being exploited and vulnerable,” said Fraser. “And although they shouldn't feel this way, many feel ashamed as to what has happened to them.”

To avoid becoming a victim, police ask that members of the public check with a family member or friend before sending any money or information by phone or e-mail. If you get a call or suspicious email, OPP urge people to hang up the call and not provide any information or send money to the caller.

Police are urging the public to remember that legitimate agencies will never pressure you to give information or demand money over the phone.

If you are a victim of fraud or know someone who is, OPP encourage you to contact your local police department and report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501.

Even if you have not suffered financial loss, victims are still encouraged to report the scam to police. 

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