Bob Clarke

Grandparent scam artists thwarted

Astute Money Mart employee saves couple from becoming a victim of popular fraud operation

  • Mar. 27, 2014 7:00 a.m.

Betty Clarke was going about an otherwise normal day in her home when the phone rang. The man on the other end of the line claimed to her grandson, Dalyn, who said he’d just been in a serious car accident in Quebec.

“He said there was quite severe damage that was going to cost just under $2,000, and this had to be deposited to an account right away,” said Bob, Betty’s husband.

The retired couple panicked. They stopped at their credit union then headed to a local Money Mart to wire the cash as instructed.

It was there an astute employee told the couple they were about to become the next victims of an increasingly popular fraud operation: the grandparent scam.

“Apparently a lot of phone calls like this come from Quebec, so when Betty told them she was sending the money to Quebec, the clerk said, ‘Wait a minute.’”

The Clarkes then headed to the police station, where officers told them the problem is proliferating across Greater Victoria and much of Canada.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received more than 43,000 complaints and tracked 11,700 victims of fraud in 2013, the most recent statistics available. Those numbers have held relatively steady since 2011, but grandparent or “emergency” scams are now listed as the third-most frequent scam behind false prizes and offers for lower interest rates.

Reported scams have become so common in Victoria and Esquimalt that the Victoria Police Department began offering fraud prevention talks.

“Free of charge, VicPD reserve members are available to come in to your residence, condo complex, townhouse or facility to walk you through what you need to know to help keep yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to fraud,” said Const. Mike Russell.

Bob said he hopes his story will help shed light on grandparent scams. He’s also been back to Money Mart to thank the Good Samaritan employee.

“The scammers play on the panic mode and your dedication to your grandchildren and scare the hell out of you,” Bob said. “The more we can get this information out there, the better.”

March is fraud prevention month. Visit vicpd.ca/fraud or call VicPD Const. Sean Millard at 250-995-7654 to book a fraud prevention talk.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langford boy wakes up from surgery to find stuffed puppy wearing the same cast

Hospital staff outfitted ‘Eddy’ the puppy to match the young patient

VIDEO: Annual artist studio tour goes virtual on Saanich Peninsula

ArtSea converts popular event to online format with personalized artist videos

Local Flavour: Youth take the lead in Victoria’s Pollinator Leadership Team

Guest writer Thompson Hygge, summer intern with Pollinator Partnership Canada

Flyover at B.C. Leg to commemorate National Peacekeepers’ Day

August 9 marks biggest single day loss of Canadian lives from peace operations

PHOTOS: Lazy Sunday at Esquimalt Lagoon

What’s your favourite thing to do at the beach?

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read