After a victim came forward to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), police are warning residents to beware of a frightening scam across the province.
The victim – who police say has chosen to remain anonymous – fell prey to a scam called the Emergency Scam, which actually had 125 victims in Ontario in 2017 alone, who sustained losses of $500,000.
And according to the OPP, 95 per cent of these crimes go unreported.
Here’s how the scam works:
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A victim will get a frantic phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one – like a grandchild – who will explain that they had some sort of “mishap” or are having trouble returning from a foreign country.
Basically, the callers says they need money “right away.”
“They will rely on your love for your family and will gain your trust to keep the matter secret,” said the OPP in a recent statement. “Fraudsters pressure people into wiring money or purchasing gift cards which they turn into cash by cloning the card. Once you wire or send the information on the gift card, your money is gone.”
Here are some things to look out for, courtesy of the OPP:
- Urgency: The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.
- Fear: The scammer plays on the victim’s emotions by generating a sense of fear. For instance they may say, “I am scared and I need help from you.” Verify the identity of the person by asking a question they would not know the answer to.
- Secrecy: The scammer pleads with the victim not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, “Please don’t tell Dad or Mom, they would be so mad.” Regardless of the emergency, call another family member to confirm the story.
- Request for Money Transfer or Gift Cards: Money is usually requested to be sent by a money transfer company to the criminals, but gift cards are now the more frequently used, easy-to-liquidate alternative to cash.
Police recommend that possible victims immediately hang up and contact your local police service. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or report the incident online.