RCMP warn Island seniors about fraudsters and scam tactics

An RCMP constable spoke about fraud and scams during a lunch and learn event aimed at seniors at Milton Community Hall.

RCMP speak to seniors about scams at community lunch and learn

Seniors took part in the lunch-and-learn to help defend themselves against 'crimes of persuasion' led by the RCMP. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

RCMP spoke with seniors about the dangers of frauds and scams at a community event at the Milton Community Hall.

Const. Gavin Moore from the RCMP's major crimes unit spoke about what he called "crimes of persuasion" — where fraudsters use changing tactics to convince people to send money.

"They are well practiced and they evolve so as a scam becomes more well known, they will tweak it or change it or move it around so that it is new or fresh and then they will go after more victims," Moore said.

Somebody has to deceive us in some way … that is just embarrassing for anybody so for that reason a lot of fraud doesn't get reported.— Const. Gavin Moore

More than 20 people attended the lunch and learn event organized by the rural municipality of Miltonvale Park, P.E.I.

Charlottetown resident Dianne Corrigan was one of the people in attendance.

She said she sees seniors as being particularly vulnerable because they want to help others.

"When you think that it is someone personal like your grandchild, it's a different thing, you react," said Charlottetown resident Dianne Corrigan. 

"Immediately, you are going to go and offer whatever help you can."

Dianne Corrigan said her sister was a victim of the so-called 'Grandparents' scam and lost several hundred dollars. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

​She said her sister was woken in the middle of the night by someone who claimed to be her grandson who had been in an accident. According to Corrigan, he claimed his injuries had changed his voice and he needed money to get help right away.

"She got up and went and sent him the money because she didn't have much time to think about it," Corrigan said.

"Because there was that urgency that they were talking about today."

Police ask victims to report the frauds

Her sister checked with other family members after and discovered that it was a scam but it was too late, the money was gone.

Corrigan doesn't think her sister ever reported the lost several hundred dollars to the police and Const. Moore said that is unfortunately common as many of frauds go unreported.

A group of seniors spent their lunch hour learning about how to avoid becoming the victim of fraud at a session. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"In order to be defrauded, we need to be duped," Moore said.

"Somebody has to deceive us in some way … that is just embarrassing for anybody so for that reason a lot of fraud doesn't get reported."

People who have been victims of a scam are urged to contact the police, Moore said, as one of the reasons is so they can keep track of the methods the scammers use in order to help others avoid the fraud in the first place.

'There is a scam out there for everybody'

Moore said that there is a lot of interest in the information sessions about frauds and scams, not just from seniors.

"I would argue that there is a scam out there for everybody so it is not necessarily just seniors, it may just be the methods that are used," he said.

"Scammers are after anybody that has money and sometimes seniors have a regular source of income through pension, or what have you, that makes them an attractive target for a scammer."

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With files from Jessica Doria-Brown