Skip to content

Northern Alberta RCMP lay out common senior's scams

RCMP presentation in Northern Alberta detailed actual cases of fraud and scams against seniors that have occurred in the community
Barrhead RCMP explains local cases where residents were caught in fraud scams

A Northern Alberta woman who was scammed out of thousands of dollars in a romance scam and RCMP are reminding the public to stay safe from scammers. 

RCMP Constable Ashish Ralh said that in most cases, it's about money or to get an advantage over someone else.

A common scam detailed by Ralh is the romance scam. The officer said a man reported that his wife had transferred upwards of $80,000 to a man in Ontario via e-transfer. The wife reported being involved in an online relationship with this man, and he needed the money to set up a life for them to be together. He claimed he had an investment firm.

The scammer had been talking to the wife for 10 months. The scammer took advantage of the fact that the husband was away with his work and the wife was home and lonely.

Romance scams are when the victim is contacted on dating websites, a person tries to get the victim's interest, and try to gain the victim's trust to communicate outside of the dating website.

The fraudster can try to get the victim to invest in fake cryptocurrency with the promise of large returns. Money could be requested for illness reasons, family emergencies, unexpected expenses, funds to return home or for travel.

According to Ralh, things to watch for are when the dating profile seems too perfect or someone professes their love for you too quickly.

Scammers will try to move conversations to a more private method, and scammers will not want you to talk about your relationship or share information about them. Avoid giving out personal information or accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, and keep your social media accounts restricted to only people you know.

Never send money to anyone you have not met in person or verified that you are talking to your actual contact. Don’t share your passwords with other people. 

There are increased cases of where people have shared intimate pictures with someone, they thought they could trust.

A scammer will post those pictures publicly and blackmail the person for cash to remove them from a posted program, Ralh said.

Accused of a crime

Ralph shared a local case where a couple came in to report that the husband had a warrant for his arrest for child pornography from China.

They were contacted by a pop-up message on their computer from Interpol stating that the China government would be pursuing the warrant.

The husband was not involved in any of the accusations.

They had bought close to $6,500 in Apple gift cards from Barrhead, Westlock and Stony Plain and gave all the gift card numbers to the scammer. It took more than four hours to read all the numbers.

The scammer refused to hang up the phone, and in the end, there was no way to cancel the gift cards.

Grandparent scams

One of the common frauds is called emergency/grandparents scams and Ralh knows of three such frauds experienced between the Barrhead and Westlock areas within the last month.

“The fraudster will contact a family member claiming that a grandchild or loved one was in an accident, has fallen ill or has been arrested by police,” Ralh stated.

“They impersonate a law enforcement officer or lawyer and demand money to help their family member out.”

One example Ralh gave was a senior who was contacted and told her grandson was in jail, and she had to pay $18,000.

The woman paid over $8,000 in cash because she believed this was a real situation.

Ralh shared that fraudsters can use videos a person posts to replicate your voice and can program the caller ID to display someone’s number. He explained that people could believe that the actual person is calling and claiming they are in jail and need money.

The RCMP recommended hanging up and calling the person who was supposedly in trouble to verify if this was a real situation.

If the fraudster claims to be a law enforcement officer, make note of the phone number and call your local RCMP branch and give them the information according to Ralh.

Buying and selling scams

Buying and selling online scams, including Kijiji or marketplace, are another scam people are getting caught in. The scammer, when buying, can promise to make payment after a tracking number is provided.

The victim sends the merchandise and provides a tracking number only to receive a counterfeit cheque or fraudulent e-transfer email.

Ralh detailed a case where a man was selling a piece of farm equipment. The scammer contacted him and said he would pay $2,000 over the asking price but would only send the money after receiving a tracking number.

The victim received a fraudulent cheque for $12,000 and is out the money, the merchandise and the shipping.

Scammers may sell an in-demand item for a cheaper price. They will ask for payment or a deposit to confirm your purchase.

Ralh shared a case where a man wanted to purchase a Dodge Ram that was selling for a cheap price. The scammer asked for a $5,000 deposit.

Two days later, the scammer said someone else paid $7,000 and the victim paid another $5,000.

The next day the victim went to the address in Leduc to pick up his truck and that address does not exist.

Tech support fraud

The other common fraud is tech support fraud, when a message comes up, or a fake email is sent. The fraudster claims something is wrong with your computer and wants money to fix it.

They will ask for remote access to your computer and get your personal information, banking details and other sensitive data off your computer.

Constable Filipe Vicente said if the call sounds suspicious or too rehearsed, hang up and call back. Then you can verify if it is a legitimate call.

Calling the call display number or the company the caller identified can protect you from scam calls. 

Never log into your financial account if a tech is logged into your computer or working on your computer.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks