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'It was just a hoax': Winnipeg senior warns others after nearly falling victim to phone scam

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A Winnipeg senior who was almost swindled out of $5,000 by a phone scam is sharing her story in hopes of saving others from falling victim.

Adeline Anderson – who is 92 years old – said usually when she gets a call from someone she doesn’t know she hangs up. But in this instance, it sounded like her daughter and she was crying.

“This lady was on the phone crying her head off,” said Anderson. “I thought, ‘God. I got to help this person because it’s my daughter.’ It sounded like her.”

After the initial call, Anderson said the phone rang again, this time a man claiming her daughter was involved in an accident.

“I was quite upset about this. (I was told) that she was in a car accident and then she hurt a six-year-old girl in the other car and (the girl) had lots of broken bones, but my daughter only had a broken nose.”

She was told that she needed to get bail money for her daughter immediately.

“He said they were holding her until they got a payment of $5,000 and then they would release her.”

She was told to go to the bank to transfer $5,000 to an account provided by the caller. She was ready to head out the door when she decided to call her daughter’s cell phone – just in case.

“By golly, she answered the phone. So it was just a hoax and I knew that I was taken.”

The Winnipeg Police Service said these types of incidents – known as grandparent scams – are on the rise.

“They require a component of urgency. So they indicate that somebody, a loved one of the victim, is in trouble,” said Const. Danni McKinnon.

McKinnon said potential targets are often found on social media or through other means.

“We do sometimes see the use of obituaries because there is a lot of personal information detailed in an obituary, including names of family members, grandchildren.”

McKinnon is reminding people that police, hospitals, or the law courts will never ask for money over the phone.

“Our simple message is just hang up. If you get a phone call from somebody who you don’t know, don’t be concerned about being rude. Just say no, and hang up the phone.”

It’s a warning Anderson wants other seniors and their families to know.

“Don’t give money. If anybody wants money right up front, it’s a scam. So just stay away from that and hang up,” said Anderson.

Police note if someone is scammed, they should file a police report right away. If it is a case like Anderson’s, people are told to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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