14 arrested for using emergency grandparent scam across Canada

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More than $739,000 Swindled from 126 Victims

Police have arrested 14 individuals in Montréal linked to the emergency grandparent scam that targeted victims across Canada.

In September 2022, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch began an intelligence probe into a group involved in the fraud. In February 2023, the probe was formalized as an OPP Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB)-led joint forces operation (JFO), known as Project Sharp, and consisted of 11 Ontario and Quebec police services in total.

Aimed at seniors with a landline telephone, the group using the emergency grandparent scam pretended to be an officer or a lawyer and claimed to have the victim’s grandchild or family member in custody. They would request bail money to secure the victim’s family member’s release. In most cases, “money mules” (unsuspecting couriers) were used to collect the money. The victims were instructed not to speak to anyone due to a “gag order” they said was in effect. Since February 2022, the group of suspects is responsible for over $2.2 million in reported losses Canada-wide. 

From January 22, 2024, to April 8, 2024, there were 126 identified victims who lost approximately $739,000 to the organized crime group running the fraud. Of these 126 victims, 15 were re-victimized multiple times losing more than $243,000. Investigators have worked with financial institutions and the Canadian Bankers Association to prevent or recover more than $559,000 in losses.

Though victims were located across Canada, the majority of the targeted individuals live in Ontario, with an age range of 46 to 95 years old. All of the victims were provided supports and fraud prevention material.

As a result of the investigation, 14 individuals were arrested and 56 charges were laid. A list of arrested persons, their municipality of residence and their respective charges is attached to this media release (see ADDENDUM – PROJECT SHARP). Additional information including a video and a project poster is located within the Project Sharp media kit (opp.ca/news).

Project Sharp is JFO-led by the OPP and involves support from the Sûreté Du Québec, Halton Regional Police Service, York Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, Peel Regional Police, Durham Regional Police Service, Ottawa Police Service, Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal, Service de Police de Laval, and Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario. Additional assistance was provided by United States Homeland Security Investigations, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of the emergency grandparent scam or any fraud is urged to contact their local police, the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or ontariocrimestoppers.ca. You can also report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. For resources on scams and fraud, visit antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

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