Charges laid in 'grandparent scam' Durham and GTA crime ring

In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, a cellphone is used in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

Three people have been charged in connection with a crime ring targeting seniors in Durham Region and across the Greater Toronto Area.

The arrests come following an investigation into more than 70 incidents of "grandparent scams" by Durham Regional Police Service's Financial Unit. The scam begins when a senior receives a phone call from someone pretending to be a lawyer for their grandchild, investigators say.

According to police, the caller tells the victim their grandchild was involved in a car accident and that a pregnant woman was injured. They would then ask for $9,000 for bail.

"The suspect would then arrange for a 'bondsman' or courier to attend the home to pick up the money," investigators said in a news release issued Wednesday. "After the money was received the senior victim would receive another phone call advising the female and/or baby had died and more money would be required."

Police say they have taken three people into custody in connection with at least seven incidents in Durham Region dating back to November 2021.

North York resident Daniel Karasira, 20, Newmarket resident Usman Oyeneye, 24, and Scarborough resident Jahmal Herbert, 20, have each been charged with participating in a criminal organization, fraud over $5,000 and possession of proceeds of a crime.

Photographs of Karasira and Oyeneye were released by police to ensure there are no further victims.

The charges have not been proven in court.

Three male suspects are facing numerous charges for their participation in a crime ring targeting seniors in Durham Region and across the GTA.

Investigators from the DRPS Financial Crimes Unit are examining more than 70 incidents of “Grandparent Scams” across the region. pic.twitter.com/lXBfqM86fP

— Durham Regional Police (@DRPS) May 18, 2022

Investigators are also reminding residents they should be "extremely cautious" when receiving unanticipated requests for money and to speak with a family member or trusted advisor for support.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Durham police at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5321.