Emergency Scams costing Albertans large amounts of money in 2022, police warn

by Morinville Online Staff

Alberta RCMP and Edmonton Police Service (EPS) warn the public of a scam circulating throughout Alberta referred to as Emergency Scams, or sometimes Grandparent or “Grandchild” scams.

In the scam, the victim is called by someone claiming to be a loved one in trouble with the courts or law enforcement. The victim is told a payment is needed to help them. The suspects will often pretend to be a police officer, a judge, or family member.

Police say the suspects usually ask for cash, but also gift cards, bitcoin, or e-transfers. The scammers will then send an associate acting as a courier to pick up the money in person or ask the money to be mailed.

Urgency is one key to the scam-the payment must be made immediately, or there will be worse consequences. The second is secrecy- no one can know because it is embarrassing or because the judge has placed a publication ban or gag order on the case.

“We encourage you to talk to family, friends, or loved ones who may be vulnerable to these types of crimes, making sure they know what to watch for,” said Alberta RCMP Serious and Organized Crime Unit Corporal Sean Milne. “If they are contacted by a scammer, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed, they shouldn’t keep it secret, and they should reach out for help.”

Alberta RCMP received 150 reports of this type of scam so far in 2022 with a loss of $750,000. Police say not only is there a concern for the loss of money but also with the risks of couriers showing up to collect the funds.

Alberta RCMP, and their policing partners offer the following tips:

  • Bail is always paid in person at a courthouse or correctional center;
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know;
  • If a person claims to be a police officer or judge, call that police service or courthouse directly to confirm the situation – police and courts will never demand cash be picked up in person or mailed; and
  • Never give out personal information over the phone or online to someone you don’t know—the police or courts will not ask for personal information over the phone.

Anyone who has fallen victim to this or any other scam, can contact their local RCMP or police of jurisdiction and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or 1-888-495-8501).

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