Ville de Gatineau
The Golden Years: a Treasure Trove for Scammers!
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Ville de Gatineau
News release
The Golden Years: a Treasure Trove for Scammers!

Gatineau, March 28, 2019. – This year, during Crime Prevention Week, the Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau (SPVG) wants to draw attention to a racket that, unfortunately, over the past few years has shown no signs of being a passing trend: scams against seniors.

Quick facts

In 2017, 696 cases of personal fraud were reported to the SPVG, 128 of them involving victims aged 60 and over, amounting to 18% of the reports filed.
In 2018, 107 out of 677 cases involved victims aged 60 and over, amounting to 16% of the reports filed.
From the statistical point of view, seniors are not the most represented group in scams. Nonetheless, the dark figure is much greater.
Many seniors are reluctant to report a crime because they are ashamed of having been had, but also because they are afraid of losing their financial independence. They believe, albeit incorrectly, that those who are close to them will feel that they are no longer capable of managing their own finances.

Most common types of scams against seniors

Seniors are the favourite targets of scammers for the following reasons:
- they often have savings and own their homes;
- they generally have good credit;
- they are more likely to be home alone in the daytime;
- some of them are lonely, making it easy for a scammer to make friends with them just to steal their identities; and
- seniors have generally been brought up to be very polite and trusting of others, so they often don't dare to say no, and feel uncomfortable hanging up the phone or closing the door on callers.
Even though seniors can be victims of any type of scam, some strategies are more likely than others to succeed, such as the following:
- Grandparent scam: Scammers call and pass themselves off as a grandchild (the child of their child). They claim that they have run into some serious problems, and are in urgent need of money. The scammers beg the victims not to call their parents because they are too ashamed.
- Phoney charities: Scammers take advantage of their victim's generosity by claiming to be raising money for a known charitable organization. Some scammers even make up fictional charities.
- Door-to-door scammers: Scammers show up right at the victim's door offering a service, such as pruning a hedge, paving or any other type of outdoor manual work, knowing that seniors often are no longer able to do that kind of work themselves. They request half of the payment up front, and never return to do the work.
- Prize scams: Scammers contact their victims by phone, email or regular mail, informing them that they have just won an incredible prize. The message indicates that in order to claim their prize, they must first pay certain basic fees.
- Identity theft: Scammers gather personal information about their victims through various means, and then steal, impersonate or misrepresent their identity. That information can be collected in person, using documents tossed into the garbage or technological tools such as fake Web sites.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Never make a hasty decision. It is important to take the time you need to check things out. Scammers generally rely on creating a sense of urgency, and push their victims to make a hasty decision.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Beware!
One way to trip up a scammer is to ask questions:
- if a scammer claims to be a family member, ask questions that only family members know the answers to; or
- if a scammer claims to represent an organization, he/she should be able to provide the name and coordinates of a senior official who can be contacted.
Have a peephole installed in your front door to see who is on the other side. Before you open the door, always ask the person to identify themselves. If in doubt or frightened, do not open the door.
Never share your personal information. Do not carry your social insurance card and PINs on you. Always destroy personal documents before discarding them.
Report any theft or loss of a bank card, as well as any unusual transaction in your account, to your banking institution.
When doing internet transaction, be sure to use only secure sites, and never allow the computer to save your data for future transactions.

The SPVG encourages anyone who has been a victim of a scam to file a report. Even though it may be difficult to do this, those crimes should not go unpunished, and victims are entitled to justice.

Related links

Scams and strategies

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Published by
Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau
Andrée East
Agente relationniste
Service de police
Ville de Gatineau

À propos de Gatineau

Reconnue pour sa qualité de vie, Gatineau est une ville de 292 000 habitants. Elle est située sur la rive nord de la rivière des Outaouais, et s'étend à l'est et à l'ouest de la rivière Gatineau.

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