Senior hangs up on scams

Try as they might – and the callers tried twice – would-be scammers could not fool a Vernon senior with the grandparents scam.

The local grandmother received a call from a man claiming to be her grandson, that he had been in an accident in Montreal, broke his nose and needed some money. The woman asked which of her nine grandsons – she has 19 grandchildren in total – it was. And when the caller couldn’t come up with a name, the grandmother hung up.

A similar attempt was made on the woman last July.

The grandparents scam – where a caller phones a person, usually a senior, and pretends to be a grandchild who has either been arrested or in an accident and needs money wired to them – is again a hot topic for Ed Howard.

Howard is the business and seniors programs co-ordinator for the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Safe Communities Unit.

And he said the grandparents scam, along with other scams, has been making the rounds.

Howard is alerting the public to scams as March is Fraud Awareness Month.

Another issue that is concerning Howard with the arrival of spring imminent is a home renovation fraud.

“This is where a person is approached at their front door where a prospective supplier or contractor will say ‘I have product left over from a job just around the corner, and for a reduced cost I could fix your roof or I could do your spouts and gutters,’” said Howard.

“A lot of seniors are targets but any of these frauds are open to anyone if they’re not aware.”

The sales person usually will give high-pressure sales tactics while at the door. Howard recommends a person take their time to decide what, if anything they want to do.

“If it’s a good deal today, if legitimate, it will be there tomorrow or next week,” he said. “Ask for references and check the reference to see if it’s even accurate or approachable.

“Don’t give any money up-front.”

Besides in-person or over-the-phone scams, Howard also warns people to watch out for a “phishing” scam done electronically.

This is where people receive an e-mail from what looks like an accredited financial institution soliciting a person’s information due to a security alert.

“They will ask you to verify your account by clicking the link below (on the e-mail), and the link hooks them up with the bad guy,” said Howard. “You end up giving them all of your banking information and they have the ability to drain your account before you have an opportunity to check.”

A lot of frauds go without being investigated, said Howard, because they are never reported immediately, and that allows the scammer to get away, putting distance between he/she and the investigator.

“If you have been victimized by a scam or fraud, or you suspect an attempt has been made, let someone know,” said Howard. “Talk about it with a family member, let a friend know or your clergy or your banker. Call the police.”

For more information on any of these or other frauds, you can call Howard at 250-550-7844.