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OPP warn public of new version of ‘emergency scam’

WELLINGTON CTY. - The Ontario Provincial Police  are urging the public to verify who they are dealing with before sending any money to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.

Wellington OPP are advising citizens the common “emergency scam” tactics have changed recently, which catches unsuspecting victims off guard.

In 2017, the scam claimed 125 victims in Ontario with losses of almost $500,000.

In the typical “emergency scam,” the victim receives a frantic phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or loved one.

The caller will desperately explain they are involved in some sort of mishap or are having trouble returning from a foreign country and need money “right away.”

“They will rely on your love for your family and will gain your trust to keep the matter secret,” police explain. “Fraudsters pressure people into wiring money or purchasing gift cards, which they turn into cash by cloning the card. Once you wire or send the information on the gift card, your money is gone.”

In a new type of scam, fraudsters will call you and advise your credit card is currently being used to purchase an item, which cannot occur because you are holding your card. The caller advises you to call 911 immediately and report the incident to police. As you hang up, the suspects stay on the line - never truly disconnecting with you - and they identify themselves as a 911 operator. They will ask you for credit card information or other personal identification to complete the scam.

Warning signs of this type of scam include:

- the scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story;

- the scammer plays on the victim’s emotions by generating a sense of fear. Verify the identity of the person by asking a question a stranger could not answer;

- the scammer pleads with the victim to not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, “Please don’t tell dad or mom, they would be so mad.” Regardless of the emergency, call another family member to confirm the story;

- money is usually requested to be sent by a money transfer company, but gift cards are now a  more frequently-used, easy-to-liquidate alternative to cash.

Police urge anyone who suspects they have been a victim of the emergency scam to hang up and contact their local police service, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online.

“Recognize, reject and report fraud,” police urge.


A victim of the emergency scam recently came forward to the OPP in the hope of preventing others from falling prey to fraudsters.

The OPP is urging citizens to share an  OPP YouTube video of the victim’s story found at:


April 13, 2018


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