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Metro Vancouver elder abuse scam resurfaces, with 20 known cases

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is raising awareness about an elder abuse scam this BC Seniors' Week.
elderly hands
Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is asking anyone who has information about these scam perpetrators to send them a tip.

Telephone scams targeting seniors have been around for a long while. 

At present, the Vancouver Police Department informed Crime Stoppers that they're investigating 20 cases from the past couple of months.

Linda Annis, the executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, tells Glacier Media the total number of scams targeting seniors in Metro Vancouver is unavailable.

"More times than not, people don't report it. They're embarrassed and they just think, 'Well, you know, I'm not going to get it back anyway.' So they don't let anyone know, which is too bad," she says. 

As this week marks B.C. Seniors' Week (June 5-11), Annis is urging the public to share any information on who's behind these calls to contact the organization. 

"That's one of the reasons why we're reaching out because we're wanting people, if they do get caught up in this scam, to let the police know because that just provides more information for the police so that they can investigate and hopefully get the people that are responsible arrested," says Annis. 

It's worth noting that when police become aware of a scam theme and begin investigating, scammers will switch it up. At present, a common theme is grandchildren bailout. 

"Right now, what the focus is people calling seniors and saying that their grandchild is being held. And if you don't get bail money for them, they're going to be in bigger trouble and their bail will increase."

And while some people may not see scamming seniors as elder abuse, Annis argues that it is.

"Whenever you take advantage of someone, either through some sort of physical means or emotional, or psychological or financial, it's an abuse."

In terms of the monetary value of the scam, Annis says it's generally below $10,000. 

"Ten thousand dollars is a bit of a flag at the bank. So if they say that, for an example, their grandchild is being held, they usually say like $9,000 or $9,500 or an amount that's under $10,000. Just so it escapes the radar."

Annis adds that it is crucial to verify information when a person receives these type of phone calls — senior or not.

"If someone says that your grandchild is being held, first of all, check with the parents, check with other family members. Rarely, and I would say never, do the police call someone and ask for bail. That's not how it works."

Anyone wishing to contact Crime Stoppers and book an elder abuse prevention presentation will find information at Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.