Williams Lake RCMP see uptick in emergency scams

“Emergency scams prey on one’s fear of a loved being hurt or in trouble,” said Staff Sgt. Brad McKinnon
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Williams Lake RCMP are warning there has been an increase of scammers calling people in the area. (File image)

Williams Lake RCMP said they are seeing an increase in emergency scams, especially targeting seniors.

“Emergency scams prey on one’s fear of a loved being hurt or in trouble,” said Staff Sgt. Brad McKinnon.

“The scammers typically try to target the elderly, claim to be someone they know and tell you money is needed immediately.”

Describing it as the grandparent scam, McKinnon outlined some examples of calls made by scammers such as needing bail money due to being arrested, being in a car accident or having trouble returning from a foreign country.

Recent reports show fraudsters are also contacting individuals via email or text messages, claiming to be a loved one asking for a favour – for this favour, they’ll will ask people to send money or gift cards.

McKinnon noted scammers may claim to be law enforcement officials, lawyers and impersonate the grandchild/family member, use urgency and threats to convince people to send money or claim there is a gag order preventing people from speaking about receiving the calls or messages.

“If you agree to pay the full amount (cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency), fraudsters will arrange to pick up the funds in person or will ask you to send cash in the mail,” McKinnon said.

Anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to be a family member in an emergency situation should hang up the phone and contact that person directly using a phone number you already have – not one provided by the suspected fraudster, he noted.

“If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official, hang up and call your local police directly, using a phone number from a reputable source – not one provided by the suspected fraudster.”

Scammers can also falsify caller ID name and numbers, he warned.

Telephone calls that require you to immediately act and request money for a family member in distress, should always be scrutinized.

“Listen to that inner voice that is screaming at you ‘this doesn’t sound right’.”

The Canadian Criminal Justice System does not allow for someone to be bailed out of jail with cash or cryptocurrency, he added.

McKinnon reminded everyone to be cautious about things they post on social media.

Anyone who has been a victim of fraud is encouraged to call the Williams Lake RCMP detachment at 250-392-6211.

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It is also recommended that you report the instance of a scam, fraud or cybercrime, whether you are a victim or not, to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.