A man is wanted in connection with at least five "grandparent scams" targeting elderly and vulnerable citizens across York Region since January.
York Regional Police has released an image of the suspect and a blue Toyota Yaris in connection with the grandparent or emergency scams that occurred in Georgina and across the south area of York Region, police said in a news release.
Reports from victims of the across the region have spiked in recent months, police said.
Investigators are appealing for any witnesses or anyone who can identify the suspect and vehicle to come forward.
Emergency scams are often called grandparent scams because fraudsters will prey on a grandparent’s bond with their grandchild in an effort to defraud them. Often, criminals will place a telephone call to an elderly person while posing as their grandchild in distress, demanding money to get them out of trouble.
In some cases, a second suspect will play the role of a government official, a police officer or a lawyer who then provides instructions on how the victim can deliver the money. These types of frauds may be repeated over the course of days, weeks or even months, as the criminals gain the trust of their victims.
A list of ongoing scams, including grandparent scams, and tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, are available here.
Crime prevention tips:
- Never offer personal or financial information to the caller
- Call the grandchild or family member in question, at a phone number you recognize as their own
- Ask the caller personal questions that only your grandchild could answer but an imposter could not
- Verify the story or information with family first
- Press the caller for details if they identify as a government official and verify their information
- Never send money to someone you don’t know
- Please take some time and ask yourself: “Could this be a scam?” “Does it make sense?”
"We encourage citizens to share fraud prevention tips with friends and family, especially seniors or newcomers to Canada, who are frequently the targeted victims. Employees at financial institutions and courier services are being asked to help identify citizens that may be a target of a grandparent scam and to contact police if something appears unusual and suspicious," police said.
If you have been a victim of a fraud, and have lost money, report the incident promptly to the York Regional Police financial crimes unit either online or by calling 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6627. To report frauds where no money has been lost, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.