The caller identified himself Tuesday, Feb. 15, as Mark.
Mark phoned a Coldstream woman in her 80s, and offered an investment opportunity promising a large return on a $4,000 buy-in. And to help matters along, he said, he would arrange to meet with the woman and drive her to her bank to get the cash.
The woman talked to her bed-ridden husband, also in his 80s, and he thought it was a great idea, according to the woman’s family (who the Morning Star will not identify in this story).
Mark arrived, the woman went with him in his vehicle to her bank in Vernon and withdrew $4,000 from her account. She put the money in an envelope and gave it to Mark, who then returned the woman to her home.
It was the woman’s family who questioned the transaction. When a daughter, who has power of attorney, was looking through the woman’s paperwork, she asked what the $4,000 withdrawal was for.
“It’s a secret. I can’t tell you,” replied the woman. That’s when family called the police.
Family members went to the bank, asking why they didn’t question an elderly woman withdrawing a substantial amount of cash. The family says they were told the bank regularly sees people as old or older than the Coldstream woman withdrawing three times the amount she asked for.
It’s unclear if Mark went into the bank with the woman at this point.
The family says another phone call came later and the woman was told to make out a cheque for $4,000 and send it to a woman in Cawston, near Penticton.
This type of fraud is not new, said Vernon North Okanagan RCMP media relations officer Const. Chris Terleski, but the fact someone would go to this extent – showing up at an elderly person’s doorstep – is incredibly concerning.
“Unfortunately, many frauds and scams are targeted at senior citizens who may be more vulnerable as they may be lonely, willing to listen, and more trusting than younger people,” said Terleski. “Talk to your elderly family members and help make them aware of common scams and what to look out for. By helping them to recognize the warning signs, they are more likely to reach out for more information and in a better position to protect themselves from becoming a victim.”
Protect your senior loved one from falling victim to scams, said Terleski. Remind them:
• Refusing to engage with anyone who calls or comes to the door selling anything or looking for donations is a good practice;
• Never give credit card, banking, or other personal information out over the phone;
• If an opportunity seems to good to be true, it probably is;
• Government officials will never ask for payment over the phone;
• Any investment/financial opportunities should be discussed with a trusted family member.
If you discover that fraud has occurred, or suspect you or a loved one are being targeted by a fraud, and you have not provided any personal information or lost any money, you can report the activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you have lost money, or have provided personal or financial information, report the incident to your local police.
There has been no description given of Mark and the family is waiting to view surveillance tapes from the bank.