Canadian seniors fall victim to grandparent phone scam, losing $2.2 million – protect your loved ones

Grandparent phone scam: Canadian seniors with landlines targeted, out $2.2 million

“Scammers preying on vulnerable seniors, pretending to be law enforcement or legal authorities, have been busted in Montreal in connection to an alarming ’emergency grandparent scam.’ This elaborate scheme targeted over 100 victims across Canada, leaving a trail of deception and financial loss in its wake.

The Deceptive Ploy

Operating by phone, the scammers would impersonate officers, judges, or lawyers and claim to have the victim’s grandchild or family member in custody. They would then demand bail money, warning the victim not to speak to anyone to maintain a false ‘gag order.’ To collect the funds, the group employed money mules or couriers to retrieve the cash from the victims.

Unraveling the Scheme

Following a thorough investigation that began in September 2022, ‘Project Sharp’ was initiated in February 2023 with collaboration from 11 police forces in Ontario and Quebec. During the operation, 126 individuals were identified as victims, collectively losing approximately $739,000 to the fraudulent syndicate. The victims, ranging in age from 46 to 95 years old, were targeted repeatedly, with 15 individuals falling victim multiple times and losing around $243,000. Fortunately, proactive measures by authorities and financial institutions prevented or recovered more than $500,000 in losses.

Wider Implications and Continued Vigilance

Despite the arrests of 14 individuals and the laying of 56 charges, including extortion and threats of violence, the impact of this organized crime group extends far beyond mere financial losses. Detective Insp. Sean Chatland emphasized that the emotional and financial toll on victims is substantial, potentially leading to life-altering consequences.

Looking Ahead

As the investigation into this elaborate scam unfolds, it serves as a stark reminder for the public to remain vigilant against such fraudulent schemes. Chatland stressed that authentic law enforcement officers would never demand money through unsolicited calls or visits. With estimates suggesting that only a fraction of fraud cases are reported to the authorities, it underscores the need for increased awareness and caution in dealing with suspicious requests or offers.


The ’emergency grandparent scam’ not only highlights the cunning tactics employed by scammers but also underscores the importance of community resilience and collaboration in combatting such schemes. By staying informed, vigilant, and proactive, individuals can safeguard themselves against falling prey to such deceptive tactics. Let this serve as a wake-up call to remain cautious and skeptical in the face of unexpected requests for money or personal information, as vigilance is key to thwarting the efforts of fraudsters.”



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