Calgary police are warning residents to be on their guard as cases of the 'Granny scam' pick up in the city.
Since the beginning of January, police say they have become aware of 12 cases. In each case, con artists contacted potential victims over the phone while posing as a family member or friend in urgent need of cash.
Often the scenario involves an accident or arrest while travelling, with a request that cash be sent through a money transfer service such as Western Union.
In a typical case, a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be one of their grandchildren.
The caller claims to be in trouble, such as being in a car accident, needing to return from a foreign country or even bail money, but puts an emphasis on needing money immediately.
In most cases, a second suspect claiming to be the fake grandchild's lawyer then contacts the grandparent and provides instructions on how to make the transaction.
The caller also specifically asks that the request be kept secret from other relatives.
23 cases since June
Since June 2013, there have been a total of 23 cases in Calgary amounting to roughly $65,000 being stolen.
In many cases, the money transfers were cancelled or police say that number would be much larger.
However, in one case alone the suspects were able to con someone out of nearly $12,000.
Police say while there are variations of this scam involving an old neighbour or a friend of the family, the majority of emergency scams are directed towards grandparents.
Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call police at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.