Seniors often targets of sophisticated telephone scams, police say

The calls may seem innocent enough — offers of help with a computer, or claims of being a long-lost relative.

But Edmonton police are warning seniors that these are often frauds that specifically target an older audience.

“It can happen to anyone, but seniors are often targeted because they are more vulnerable,” Det. Bill Allen, with the economic crimes unit, said in a news release.

Allen said such scams are intended to rob victims of their savings, and are frequently successful.

The  scenarios take a variety of forms.

The Grandparent scam: Someone calls pretending to be a grandchild in urgent need of money.
Romance: A person seeking friendship online, who eventually asks for money to meet up.
Inheritance or lottery scams: Someone claiming to be a lawyer offering an inheritance or lottery win. The catch is, the victim will have to pay a percentage of the winnings up front, but never receives the prize.
Bank inspector scam: A phony fraud investigation by someone claiming to be from the bank.
Computer virus scam: A bogus provider will allege your computer has a virus that only they can fix. All they want is access to your computer and payment.

Police offer several tips to avoid being victimized. Allen warned people to be extra cautious of calls or visits  from people you don’t know. Never agree to pay for products or services in advance, and shred personal information, such as bank or credit card statements.

Most frauds are not reported. Allen said people are often embarrassed that they lost money and were taken by a scam. Police encourage everyone to give them if a call if they feel they’ve been a victim of economic crime, or know of someone who has.



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