Vancouver – Vancouver Police are investigating a troubling new scam that tricks seniors into thinking their loved ones have been arrested, and convinces them to hand over thousands of dollars for legal fees.
“It’s not uncommon for scammers to target the elderly by contacting them by mail, telephone, or online,” says Constable Tania Visintin. “What’s different and concerning is that fraudsters are now showing up at the victims’ doorsteps to collect cash. It’s brazen, and we’re concerned about peoples’ safety.”
The scam was first reported to VPD on January 12, when a west-side couple in their 70s received a call from a man who claimed their nephew had been in a car accident and needed $8,000 to get out of jail. The fraudster then came to the victims’ home and picked up the money.
Later that same day, a 75-year-old Kitsilano resident received a similar call telling her that her grandson had been in a car accident, was in jail, and needed $9,000 for bail. The suspect also came to her residence and the victim handed over money.
“Both cases are now being investigated by VPD’s Financial Crime Unit,” said Constable Visintin, adding it’s unknown if the frauds are being perpetrated by a single suspect or an organized group.
“We’re reaching out to other police agencies to determine how far reaching this scam is. Until we know more, we urge everyone to be cautious about strangers who ask for money.”
Vancouver Police have released video of a person of interest, and encourage anyone with information to contact investigators at 604-717-0503.