Friday, April 1, 2016

'Grandparent scam' thrives in Montreal

The person on the other end of the line identified himself as her grandson, using his actual name. His voice might have sounded a little off, but she couldn’t quite tell. The connection wasn’t the best, and at 78 years old, she wears hearing aids in both ears.

But he called her “Bubbe,” Yiddish for grandma, what her grandson, 22, had always called her. He had been arrested, he told her.
Seniors lose thousands of dollars each year through similar calls in what police refer to as a “grandparent scam.” Quebec has long been notorious for telemarketing scams. Reports suggest that there are several gangs operating out of Montreal, targeting seniors across North America.

The caller says he is the person’s grandchild, that he’s caught up in some sort of trouble, and that money is needed immediately. Often the caller will know some personal details that make the victim believe him.
In 2015, a man convinced an elderly woman living at a seniors complex in Calgary to hand over $2,500.

He told her he was a friend of her grandson's who had been in an accident, was in police custody and needed the money. Across Canada in 2015, 250 seniors reported being caught up in similar scams, representing $1.7 million in losses.
In February 2015 RCMP arrested 11 fraudsters in Montreal. Boiler rooms can bring in $70,000 to $100,000 a week and represent about 50% of telemarketing scams busted by police.

Police said the grandparent scam has become a favorite of Montreal con-artists because it is very low risk and high reward. Very few of the scams are ever reported. Last Thursday, the Sûreté du Québec announced it had arrested two men in Montreal for allegedly being involved in similar “grandparent fraud” cases. Steven Devantro, 34, was arrested along with a second man.