Kelowna RCMP is cautioning the general public following reports of the Emergency Scam, otherwise known as the Grandparent Scam, surfacing in the Central Okanagan.

In September 2020, a local Kelowna resident answered a fraudulent telephone call from Quebec, on the other end of the line was someone claiming to be a lawyer. While on the phone, a man could be heard crying in the background as the lawyer explained that the victim’s son had been in a motor vehicle collision and that the victim had to send bail money to the lawyer on their son’s behalf to get him out of police custody.

The victim attended a local bank and deposited a large sum of cash into a numbered bank account provided by the lawyer. Following the deposit, the lawyer requested further funds for damages caused to a photo radar device during the collision. The victim followed the instructions and deposited further funds into the account, but by this time the victim was growing increasingly concerned regarding her son. Later that day, the victim spoke with their son and confirmed that he was safe and sound. The investigation into the fraud remains ongoing.

This was an unfortunate situation of scammers using an emotional plea to take advantage of a parent’s concern for their child and exploit it to their advantage, states Cst. Solana Paré, spokesperson for the Kelowna Regional Detachment. The Kelowna RCMP has since received further reports from citizens who received calls of similar nature who took the precautionary measure to call and confirm the call was a scam.

Follow this advice if confronted with this scam or others:

  • Watch out for urgent pleas that play on your emotions. If you have any doubts, simply end the conversation;
  • If you have received a call or contact from someone claiming a family member is in trouble, talk to other family members to confirm the situation;
  • Never send cash, gift cards or money transfers as payment to an unknown recipient.