Police and anti-fraud agencies have asked the Canadian Taxi Association (CTA) for help in stopping the latest “Grandparent Scam.”
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police have launched a fraud prevention campaign to raise awareness about the significant increase in emergency scams targeting Canadian seniors. They have requested the CTA help notify Taxi companies across Canada to alert them to this scam exploiting frightened seniors who are being told one of their loved ones, often a grandchild, is in trouble and needs cash.
“These organizations are requesting that Canadian Taxi companies assist in distributing the information sheets attached here,” CTA president Marc Andre Way wrote in an email distributed June 2nd. “Please take special care to ensure that your own dispatchers and order takers are aware of this new scam as it evolves so that they can alert authorities if a senior calls in with a call or order which strikes them as suspicious; for example, using a Taxi to deliver a package to Montreal.
“It may be at stressful times like this that the “human touch” our Taxi companies provide is most important. Thank you for your attention to this matter,” Way noted.
The CAFC is receiving new reports which are a variation of a theme previously used involving a fraudulent emergency text or social media message. The fraudster will claim to be a family member or loved one, advising that their cellphone is broken or has been dropped in water. The fraudster will then provide an alternate phone number to send a text. The fraudster will proceed to ask for a favor by requesting funds from the victim to repair the broken phone or to pay a bill.
“Emergency scams sometimes called grandparent scams, involve fraudsters contacting seniors or family members claiming that their grandchild or a loved one was in an accident, charged with an offence such as a DUI and drug offences or, in some cases, is ill with COVID-19,” the fraud advisory shared with Taxi News reads.
“Fraudsters will claim that they are law enforcement officials, lawyers and even impersonate the grandchild/loved one. They’ll proceed to advise the victim that a payment for bail or fine is required immediately in order for the family member to avoid going to jail.
“Fraudsters will often claim that there is a ‘gag order’ and the victim cannot discuss the occurrence with anyone. If the victim agrees to pay the requested amount, suspects will arrange to pick up the funds in person or will ask the victim to send cash in the mail,” notes the advisory. Officers who have been in contact with victims recently note that fraudsters are also asking cash to be delivered as a package in a Taxi.
Another variation the CAFC continues to receive reports of is the emergency scam email. Victims report receiving an email claiming to come from one of their email contacts. The email will ask for a favor: purchase gift cards because they’re ill or have lost their wallet. In some cases, the sender’s email account has been compromised or contact list has been obtained by the fraudsters.
Contact the anti-fraud unit directly at 1(888) 495-8501 or antifraudcentre.ca