The grandson scam is back, but with a new twist, and is working its way through the city seeking potential victims, warn police.
Nanaimo RCMP issued a press release this week letting members of the public know about two similar incidents reported April 19. The scams start with a victim receiving a call from someone claiming to be a family member.
“The loved one is usually very upset and says that they were involved in a motor vehicle accident. Sometimes the details of the collision include them striking a pedestrian or even a pregnant woman,” the release noted.
They ask for a bail bond to keep them out of jail and say there is a gag order in place so the victim must avoid talking to anyone about the situation. Most victims are directed to contact a courier to send money to an address in Quebec or Ontario.
Alternatively, some victims are being told they must pay a bail bondsman directly who is being sent to their homes to collect the money. The two incidents in Nanaimo this month seemed to involve the same suspect, RCMP say, a man described as possibly of Middle Eastern descent, of average build or slim build, with afro-style hair, a surgical mask and a dark-coloured hoodie. In both cases the victim was on the phone with the ‘lawyer’ when the suspect arrived at the home.
Police say the scam’s storyline changes slightly from year to year, targeting the trusting nature of seniors who will do anything to try to help a loved one in trouble. The victims often get scammed out of thousands of dollars.
“This scam has been around for years, but every so often another layer or twist is added to it,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, in the release. “In the latest version, it’s the bail bondsman. Regardless of what you are told, if you receive a phone call that sounds anything like this, it’s a scam. Do not engage with them and hang up the phone. Afterwards, be sure to tell your friends and family about the call so they do not fall for it.”
If someone shows up at the door claiming to be bail bondsman, police say not to let them inside and call 911 immediately. Scam phone calls can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Police should only be contacted if money was lost or personal information was shared. The Nanaimo RCMP can be contacted through the Nanaimo detachment non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.