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Coast RCMP warning of increase in 'emergency' scams

Here's how to keep yourself safe from scammers
Elderly woman holding a smart phone

Sunshine Coast RCMP is warning of an increase in “emergency” or “grandparent” scams.

The emergency scam preys on individuals' willingness to help friends or family in need – sending a call, email or social media message from someone claiming to be a family member or friend in a dire situation.

“They may say they’ve been arrested while travelling overseas, or there was an accident, medical emergency, or other calamity. They provide convincing details, such as family names and school details,” explains an RCMP press release.

A Sechelt resident recently had someone contact her asking for $6,000 to bail her daughter-in-law out of jail, said the release.

“A common version is the grandparent scam, where the con artist contacts a grandparent claiming to be their grandchild and asking for money. The plea is so persuasive that the grandparent wires money to the scammer, only to find out later their family member was safe and sound all along,” said the release. “This scam can also work in reverse, where the ‘grandparent’ calls their grandchild pleading for help.”

Tips for spotting this scam include resisting the urge to act immediately. Call the loved one directly and check the story with other family and friends. Ask questions that would be difficult for a scammer to answer. And if in any doubt, don’t wire money.

Another suggestion is familiarizing yourself with the kind of information that your family is sharing online – just so you’re aware.