Vancouver police are warning the public about an “alarming” new scam targeting seniors, in which the suspect physically comes to their homes.
Police say the suspect or suspects struck twice this week, in cases with nearly identical details and which cost the victims thousands of dollars.
Both incidents happened on Jan. 12, and involved someone phoning the victim to tell them a loved one — in one case a nephew, and in the other a grandson — had been in a car crash, were in jail and needed money to be bailed out.
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The victims, who were in their 70s, agreed and withdrew the money — in one case $8,000, and in the other $9,000. The suspect then came to their homes, collected the money and left.
Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said the technique is an escalation of the tactics fraudsters have traditionally used, which rely on the phone or email.
“They show up at the door, so it’s very brazen and it’s very concerning on our end. It does put people’s safety at risk,” she said.
Visintin said there were no acts of violence in either case, but that there is always the potential things could escalate.
She said it was not clear if the scam involved one person working alone or an organized group, and added the financial crime unit was in communication with police in nearby jurisdictions including Surrey, Burnaby, North Vancouver and Chilliwack about similar reports.
Police released security video of a person of interest, Friday. While it doesn’t show the man’s face clearly, his voice is audible, and Visintin asked anyone who recognizes him to contact police.
Investigators are also asking people to warn any seniors in their lives about the scam, and say anyone who gets a call of this nature should hang up and call police.
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