Calgary

'Grandparent scam' leaves Calgary woman out $5,000

A Calgary woman is speaking out after falling victim to a telephone fraud nicknamed the "grandparent scam."

'Police say I was lucky it was only $5,000. That hurts, but mostly it was embarrassment,' says Heidi Keeler

Calgary's Heidi Keeler lost $5,000 in a fraud after answering the telephone at her mother's Edmonton retirement lodge. (Maureen Miller/CBC)

A Calgary woman is speaking out after falling victim to a telephone fraud nicknamed the "grandparent scam."

Heidi Keeler went to visit her elderly mother in an Edmonton retirement lodge last month and found her on the phone, upset about her grandson. Keeler asked for the phone.

“(The caller) told me she was on the phone with the police. My son had been arrested, charged with reckless endangerment,” said Keeler.

She was told if she paid damages for the other vehicle, her son could avoid the charge. Keeler ended up giving $5,000 to the scammer by buying pre-paid credit cards with cash and sharing the details over the phone.

 Police are investigating, although Keeler doesn't expect to get her money back.

Grandparent scam

Police say this is a well-known ploy. An older person gets a phone call out of the blue from someone crying and hysterical, needing money immediately.

"I'm a well-educated woman and should have known better. The police say I was lucky it was only $5,000. That hurts, but mostly it was embarrassment,” said Keeler.

Embarrassment keeps most victims silent. Keeler said she willing to endure a little public humiliation if it saves just one more person getting suckered.

“For me, it’s sort of weighed on my mind. I've been obsessing about how I did this to my family and how I've done this to my kid. And how I haven't spoken out to save other people. Because that's my goal.”

Alberta RCMP say there has been an increase lately in the number of people getting scammed and the level of sophistication has also been rising.

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