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Winnipeg police investigating 15 'grandparent scam' reports over last 6 days

The Winnipeg Police Service is reporting a “significant” spike in local ‘grandparent scams,’ which is a scheme that tries to get money from elderly people by tricking them into thinking their grandchild is in legal trouble.

On Thursday, police said there have been 15 grandparent scam reports in the past six days, which has resulted in about $100,000 in losses.

The financial crimes unit is investigating these incidents.

Police officers noted that in October 2021, they issued a cautionary news release about an increase in the scheme in Winnipeg. Then in March 2022, police discovered the scheme had escalated to the point that couriers and rideshare drivers were going to the victims’ homes to get the money, rather than just relying on online transfers.

Const. Jay Murray with the Winnipeg Police Service said police believe these frauds are being committed by organized groups.

“They’re not fly-by-night operations,” he said at a Thursday news conference.

“There’s been a number of calls here recently in Winnipeg. So much so that our communications centre has actually called down to our office to say, ‘We’re noticing a lot of calls about this.’”


Police explained the grandparent scam often involves someone calling an elderly person claiming to be their grandchild who is in legal trouble and in need of money. Officers note the caller will sometimes cry, adding there is often urgency and secrecy surrounding the demands.

Police said the scheme begins with a caller claiming to be a nephew, niece or grandchild, and they will sometimes even provide a first name.

From there, the caller will say they have been involved in an accident, such as a car crash, claiming they have been arrested and taken to jail. The phone is then given to another person who claims to be a lawyer.

The victim is then told that bail money is needed or else the family member will stay in jail. They are also told a judge put a gag order in place, so the victim can’t discuss the situation with anyone else, including the bank or other family members.

The victim is instructed to tell the bank the money will be used for home repairs or something similar. They are also given a phone number to call, or will receive a call from the fraudster soon after.

Once the victim has got the money, they are informed a bondsperson will come to their home. A fake bondsperson will then come and take the money.

Police note there may be additional attempts to get money from the victim over the next few days.

Murray noted the amount of money the caller asks for is dependent on the fraudster and the level of cooperation from the victim.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that some of our loved senior ones or elderly ones, often there’s a lot of life savings with some families, so there could be a substantial amount of money that’s exchanged,” he said.

“The scammer will likely feel out how the conversation is going. If they feel they’ll be successful, they may tend to ask for more.”


Murray said one of the reasons police chose to hold the news conference on Thursday was because elderly people can be some of the most vulnerable in society.

“It’s important to have these conversations, whether it’s your parents, your grandparents. If this is somebody that’s close to you that’s an elderly person that may not be directly family, please have this conversation with them,” he said.

Police said when it comes to preventing these schemes, knowledge is critical.

Officers are reminding people that:

  • Police and courts will never send someone to your home to collect money;
  • Police and courts will never tell you to lie to the bank about the purpose of obtaining money; and
  • Fraudsters will pressure people to act quickly, but it’s best to speak with a trusted person before giving out money or personal information.

Police urge Winnipeggers to talk to their elderly relatives about this scheme. If anyone receives a call that sounds like a grandparent scam, they should contact police.

Those who have fallen victim to this scheme should try and document all of the information they can remember about the transaction.

Officers emphasize that it is important to report fraud as it can help to protect others in the future.

“I think it can be very embarrassing for somebody if they lose money and find out it’s a scam. But the reality is many people fall for scams and frauds every day, unfortunately,” Murray said.

“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and it’s very important to report these scams so that we can learn from them, we can continue to put out advisories and we can collect evidence.” Top Stories

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