‘We have your grandson’ – Princeton seniors scammed out of thousands of dollars

Two elderly Princeton men are saying they were robbed of thousands of dollars because they thought they were helping their grandsons.

“It’s cowardly people taking advantage of vulnerable and trusting people,” said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes.

In May, a 90-year-old man contacted the Princeton police detachment, reporting he purchased and handed over $2,500 in Visa gift cards to a phone caller who said: “We have your grandson.”

“It was a person claiming to be police,” said Hughes.

The caller said the victim’s grandson had been arrested for impaired driving. He could be released, though, with a cash payment, and the grandson would have no criminal record.

When the nonagenarian explained he had no access to online banking, the scammer told him to purchase gift cards and then call back with the numbers on the cards.

“Later the man found out that his grandson was never arrested, and was not available by phone because he was camping,” explained Hughes.

Then on June 30, police received a second report from a Princeton senior, who was pitched a similar story.

The first phone call was made in April, and the caller identified himself as Garner, his grandson’s lawyer.

He said the grandson was in jail, arrested for impaired driving, but he would represent him and get him released with a cash payment.

The 81-year-old made an e-transfer from his bank, $3,000, which is the largest amount he was able to send in one day.

The following day there was another phone call, said Hughes, asking for an additional $2,281 for legal expenses.

The grandfather returned to the bank and forwarded the funds, all the while his grandson had never been arrested.

RCMP are working an active investigation with the bank’s fraud branch, said Hughes.

Hughes said the gift card scam is well known to police.

“Don’t ever, ever, ever pay anyone with a gift card…There is no legitimate business anywhere, anywhere, anywhere that asks to be paid in gift cards.”

Hughes said anyone receiving a call, about a relative in jail, should contact local police.

“If all else fails, before you send money, call us and let us make some checks.

Related: Cat-phishing tops list of Better Business Bureau’s 10 scams of 2018

Related:RCMP warns of COVID-19 scams spreading through B.C.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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