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Fraudsters changing tactics to steal your money

As you hang up, the suspects stay on the line -- never truly disconnecting with you -- and they identify themselves as a 911 operator
fraud 2 2016

OPP want you to verify who you're dealing with before sending any money to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.

As part of the annual Fraud Prevention Month awareness campaign, the Emergency Scam tactics have changed recently, which catch unsuspecting victims off guard, says a news release.

In 2017, the "Emergency Scam" claimed 125 victims in Ontario with losses of almost $500,000 dollars. Police admit 95 percent of the crimes go unreported.

"In the typical Emergency Scam, the victim will receive a frantic phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or loved one," says Detective Sergeant Ted Schendera of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch.

"The caller will desperately explain that they are involved in some sort of mishap or are having trouble returning from a foreign country and need money 'right away.' They will rely on your love for your family and will gain your trust to keep the matter secret.  Fraudsters pressure people into wiring money or purchasing gift cards which they turn into cash by cloning the card. Once you wire or send the information on the gift card, your money is gone."

In a new type of scam, fraudsters will call you and advise your credit card is currently being used to purchase an item which cannot occur because you are holding your card. 

The caller advises you to call 911 immediately and report the incident to police. As you hang up, the suspects stay on the line -- never truly disconnecting with you -- and they identify themselves as a 911 operator. They will ask you for credit card information or other personal identification to complete the scam. 

Warning signs:

  • Urgency -- The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.
  • Fear -- The scammer plays on the victim's emotions by generating a sense of fear. For instance they may say, "I am scared and I need help from you." Verify the identity of the person by asking a question they would not know the answer to. 
  • Secrecy -- The scammer pleads with the victim not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, "Please don't tell Dad or Mom, they would be so mad." Regardless of the emergency, call another family member to confirm the story.
  • Request for Money Transfer or Gift Cards -- Money is usually requested to be sent by a money transfer company to the criminals, but gift cards are now the more frequently used, easy-to-liquidate alternative to cash.

If you or someone you know suspect they've been a victim of the Emergency Scam, hang up and contact your local police service or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or report the incident online at

A victim of the Emergency Scam has come forward to the OPP in the hope of preventing others from falling prey to fraudsters. See the YouTube video.