(HALDIMAND COUNTY, ON) – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Haldimand County Detachment is reminding the public to be vigilant, be extremely cautious and after an elderly victim was scammed for nearly $50,000.
Although the incident occurred outside of Haldimand County, family members of the victim wanted the story shared in hopes that it would serve as a warning to other potential victims.
In the fall of 2020, the victim received a telephone call from an individual claiming to be from the fraud department of the victim’s financial institution. The unknown individual had told the victim that they were investigating a fraud.
Through conversations with the victim, the unknown individual was able to gain the victim’s trust and gained access into the victim’s bank account and line of credit. The fraudster had then appeared to have deposited funds into the victim’s bank account. The fraudster had convinced the victim that this was a tactic to capture scammers.
The victim could see the amounts being deposited but what the victim didn’t realize was that the fraudster was actually transferring money from the victim’s line of credit to deposit into the victim’s bank account.
The fraudster then told the victim they would need them to attend different retail outlets in different cities and purchase gift cards. The fraudster then instructed the victim to scratch the back of the gift cards and provide them with the number.
The fraudster had further instructed the victim not to tell anyone of the gift card purchases as this could compromise the investigation and prevent them from catching the scammers.
During one visit to a retail outlet, the victim was attempting to purchase $3,000 in gift cards when a store manager told the victim they could not sell gift cards for that amount because of the amount of scams going on.
Once family members became aware of the transactions, they immediately told the victim they had been scammed and reported the incident to the police service in their jurisdiction.
OPP is reminding the public to be aware of the warning signs, never give out any personal information to someone you don’t know, and always verify all contact information.
Do not call a number or email that some unknown person provides you with. Give yourself adequate time to complete your own search. Don’t react on impulse and fear.
Some fraudsters have even “call spoofed” a phone where they can have any name appear on the victim’s caller ID. For example, they have used police service names and financial institution names to make it appear the caller is from a legitimate organization.
Fraudsters will often target the elderly in attempts to take advantage of their trusting nature. Don’t be intimidated and don’t be afraid to just hang up the phone.
OPP is encouraging those with elderly family members to have the conversations with them to help reduce the risk of being scammed.
Also, gift cards are not meant for payments and no legitimate business or organization will request these; especially under pressure.
To learn about ways to protect yourself from scams and frauds, the OPP encourages community members to stay educated on fraud prevention.