One man has been arrested after being caught in the act of attempting to bilk a West Vancouver senior out of $16,000.
The incident, which was a variation on the familiar “grandparent scam” took place on Tuesday (July 19), according to a release from West Vancouver Police Department Const. Nicole Braithwaite.
The 80-year-old victim received a call at home from an “officer Baker” with the North Vancouver RCMP, telling him his grandson had been arrested and needed bail money in order to be released. The fraudster then handed the phone to another man who pretended to be the grandson. Together, they were able to convince the senior to withdraw $16,000 and wait at home for someone who could come collect the cash.
When the suspect arrived, wearing plain clothes with no police ID, the senior became suspicious. The fraudster claimed Officer Baker would be arriving shortly but the real police were on the scene first.
“We just happened to be in the area due to an unrelated call, and then the individuals flagged them by,” Braithwaite said. “I think the individuals were very lucky.”
Scams targeting a senior's desire to help a family member are unfortunately common, though most times no one is ever arrested.
“These fraudsters are very convincing and prey on the vulnerability of elderly individuals,” Braithwaite said. “These types of frauds are extremely upsetting, and some people are too embarrassed to report it, but please report it. These reports might lead to other arrests.”
In British Columbia, anyone kept in police custody is entitled to a judicial interim release hearing in court. Police never handle bail money.
It was also troubling that the suspect claimed to be a North Vancouver RCMP officer, Braithwaite added. It’s the second time this week police on the North Shore have raised warnings about scammers impersonating police. On Monday, a man wearing a faux police hat and vest pulled over a driver in North Vancouver and attempted to make him pay on the spot for a bogus violation ticket, using a credit/debit machine. That scam too failed when the victim became suspicious, although the suspect got away.
West Vancouver police have recommended the Crown lay a charge of fraud over $5,000 against the 26-year-old Richmond resident. The case remains under investigation. Anyone with tips is urged to come forward.
Following the arrest, the man was released from custody and must appear in court at a later date, whereupon he may find himself in need of bail money.