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Sudbury police charge Ottawa woman in grandparent scheme


A 20-year-old Ottawa woman has been charged for allegedly scamming a Sudbury senior out of $9,000 in a grandparent scheme and Sudbury police say they are concerned there may be more victims.

It is a scam that has been circulating for years, but elderly victims in several northern Ontario communities have fallen prey to it recently prompting police to issue warnings.

On Monday, Sudbury police said they received a complaint from a local woman who said she received a phone call from someone pretending to be her granddaughter from phone number 236-335-0168.

The woman posing as the granddaughter said she had been in a collision and police had found $10,000 in cannabis in her vehicle, Sudbury police said in a news release Thursday morning.

"An individual personating a police officer then came on the phone and said that $9,000 was required in order for her 'granddaughter' to make bond," police said.

The person claiming to be a police officer then made arrangements with the elderly woman to pick the money up from her house.

The victim took the money out of her bank account and a white woman five feet, five inches tall with blond hair worn in a ponytail picked it up from her home.

"At the time of the incident, the woman was wearing a grey shirt with 'security' written across the front. The woman arrived at the residence in a white Audi Q5 with a black rack on the top and no front licence plate," Sudbury police said about the suspect.

Officers arrested the accused and charged her with fraud over $5,000 in connection to the incident.

She was released following a bail hearing on Wednesday.

"There is a concern that there may be additional community members who have fallen victim to this scam and have not yet reported it to police. If you have been involved in a similar incident, you are asked to contact police at 705-675-9171," police said.

"As a general reminder, in Canada, an officer will never contact you in relation to 'posting bail/bond' for a friend or family member, nor will the police send someone to your residence in order to collect money."

The Parkside Older Adult Centre in Sudbury offers information sessions on scams and ways people can protect themselves.

"There (are) romance scams out there, there are fraudulent scams that are targeting seniors and we want to make sure that they have the tools available to help them identify risks," said Natalie Labbee, assistant manager at the ParkSide Older Adult Centre.

Police said everyone need to take steps to protect themselves.

"Our advice would be just to limit the amount of information you put out on social media as fraudsters so typically use social media in order to locate their victims," said Sudbury police spokesperson Kaitlyn Dunn.

"In this case, they used social media to determine whether or not you do have a grandchild and then they are able to use that in order to pull on your heartstrings."

Here are some ways to protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • Take time to verify the story. Scammers are counting on you wanting to quickly help your loved one in an emergency.
  • Call the child’s parents or friends to find out about their whereabouts.
  • Ask the person on the phone questions that only your loved one would be able to answer and verify their identity before taking steps to help.
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust.
  • Never give out any personal information to the caller.

Find more information here.

--With files from Alana Everson Top Stories

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