Scams targeting seniors

This fraud bulletin was prepared to outline these scams and provide warning signs that Canadians can use to recognize, reject and report.

Prize scams

Scammers constantly reinvent the wheel and come up with new ways to prey on potential victims. Older Canadians continue to receive phone calls, emails or messages through their social media accounts claiming they are the recipient of a large lottery or sweepstakes win. Prior to receiving any winnings, they must first pay a fee upfront. No winnings are ever received.

Scammers will use real company names like "Reader's Digest" and "Publisher's Clearing House" to instill confidence in the victim that the winnings are legitimate.

Warning signs - How to protect yourself

Emergency scams

Scammers use social media, the internet and direct calls to potentially target older Canadians with this scam. Potential victims receive a call claiming to be a family member or a close friend describing an urgent situation that requires immediate funds. Common themes have been that the family member was arrested or got into an accident while travelling abroad. Monies are required for hospital expenses, lawyer fees or bail. Usually the potential victim is instructed to send money via a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram.

Warning signs - How to protect yourself

Romance scams

There are a growing number of older Canadians who are turning to the internet to find companionship and love. Unfortunately, scammers know this and use every type of dating or social networking site available to seek out potential victims.

The scammer will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection and will communicate via phone, skype and email for months if needed to build trust. The scammer will often claim to be working abroad, usually in a lucrative business venture. Eventually the scammer will want to meet with the victim in person. It is at this time that the scammer will inform they can't afford to travel and will ask for money to cover travel costs. Other variations include the scammer claiming that there is a medical emergency with a sick family member and will ask for money to cover medical expenses.

Warning signs - How to protect yourself

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