The telephone rings. The person on the other end claims to be a lawyer or police officer, informing you that your son or daughter has been in a car crash and is now being held in jail for drunk driving. You need to send money to bail them out.
But it’s all a scam.
Grand Forks RCMP say this situation has played out at least 10 times locally in the last two weeks. In one case, the scammer even had a woman crying on the phone, pretending to be someone’s daughter.
“Most people, thankfully, have been very suspicious and have not fallen for it,” says Sgt. Darryl Peppler.
At least no one who has told them about it.
Peppler says he is sure the same scam is going on everywhere. Perpetrators scour Facebook and other social media to make you think they know you.
“They do their research and get your name and number and make the call and see where it goes,” Peppler says. “It’s very elaborate. They’re getting more sophisticated, more brazen. They may get rejected 99 out of 100 times, but it’s that one time they don’t that is a success for them.”
At the same time, Mounties are seeing fraud attempts through text messaging, where someone claiming to be a cell phone or cable provider tells you that you are entitled to a refund and they want to send it by e-transfer.
Peppler says he received two such texts himself and verified they were not legitimate. If you are due a refund, companies will normally just credit your account.
RCMP say you can familiarize yourself with common frauds and schemes by visiting online the Canadian Anti Fraud Center. And once you know what to look for and how to protect yourself, tell your friends, family and coworkers if you suspect you were almost a victim of a fraud.
“The more word we can get out there, the more knowledgeable we all will be,” Peppler says.