Vancouver – Vancouver Police are looking into a new scam that deceives seniors into believing their loved ones have been arrested and then gets them to pay thousands of dollars in legal expenses.
“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.”
On January 12, a couple in their 70s from the west side received a call from a man claiming their nephew had been in a vehicle accident and needed $8,000 to get out of jail. The con artist then went to the victims’ house where the victim gave the fraudster the money.
A 75-year-old Kitsilano resident received a similar phone later that day, informing her that her grandson had been in a vehicle accident and was in jail, requiring $9,000 in 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.