The “emergency scam” is back

A favourite fraud routine is making a comeback.

Police warn that the “Emergency Scam,” a favourite fraud routine for con artists, is back as more people are housebound thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. A homeowner in Leeds County received a suspicious call and OPP warn that other residents in other Eastern Ontario counties may also get similar calls.

The “emergency scam” involves an alleged relative or friend of the victim calling up to ask for help because they are under arrest or in the hospital or stranded somewhere without any money or credit cards or access to their bank accounts. The aim is to get the target of the scam to wire money to help deal with the problem.

The new variation on the scam now involves someone claiming to be a lawyer phoning the target of the fraud, telling the person that their son or daughter or some other relative or a friend was in an accident and is now in jail and needs bail money. Then another person comes on the line, claiming to be the person in trouble and begging for help.

The victim in Leeds County targeted by the two fraudsters lost $5000. Con artists are now counting on people’s concern that their family or friends may need help getting home during the pandemic and not asking for more information to make sure the call is real.

Anyone getting a suspicious call that sounds like the “emergency scam” should ask personal questions to help determine if the alleged person in trouble is an actual relative or friend. Even then they should not provide any personal or financial information, but see if the person will provide a phone number for a call back. Then hang up and report the matter to police to investigate.

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