To what lengths will criminal scam artists go to rip off Revelstoke residents? Over 1,000 kilometres in a case from last year.
Police say a Vancouver-area scammer visited Revelstoke, rented an apartment and then advertised it for rent, stealing deposits from renters.
Revelstoke RCMP are again warning residents that scam artists are always on the prowl and specifically target senior residents.
RCMP spokesperson Cst. Thomas Blakney warns residents to be vigilant after a scam attempt last week.
In this instance, a female caller contacted a senior Revelstoke resident saying their grandson had been in a car crash. She demanded money to pay for his treatment.
“This person smelled a rat and phoned us,” Blakney said.
Another local resident wasn’t as lucky; last week, another resident lost about $2,300 via a money transfer company.
“They look for Western Unions in the immediate area … and then they look for seniors’ homes and start making phone calls,” he said of the scammers’ modus operandi.
Blakney said this kind of fraud is typical. Scammers, who can be calling from anywhere in the world, target seniors with a variety of stories. Their relative is in hospital or jail and needs money to get out. It’s an embarrassing situation, so they beg the recipient not to inform other family members. It’s urgent so they need the money right away.
The scammers target residents who may be more vulnerable to confidence tricks. They’ll start by saying, ‘It’s me, your grandson.’ When the victim responds with his grandson’s actual name, they sink the hook in right away.
Blakney is asking residents to think of friends or family who may be more vulnerable and take steps to protect them by talking about it. They could be isolated, or lack Internet savvy, or suffer from cognitive impairment.
The RCMP request residents report all scam attempts so they can follow up. For example, RCMP were able to identify a Vancouver resident as a suspect in the apartment rental scam due to public tips.
“We don’t know if it’s frequent,” Blakney said. He said more tips to police provides them better information on the frequency of scams.
Blakney said RCMP will also be doing outreach, including a presentation to residents at Moberly Manor. They’re also exploring an outreach program with companies that offer money transfers to help identify potential victims.