Three more people have been arrested and charged in relation to numerous “grandparent scams” in Calgary, according to police.
In a news release on Thursday, the Calgary Police Service alleged that one of the people charged was caught in the act by officers. The two others were arrested after investigating recent occurrences of the scam.
Police said the victims were contacted by phone by someone pretending to be a relative, a police officer or someone in the legal system.
The victims were told that their loved ones needed financial help and were advised to go to their bank to withdraw large amounts of cash, where a “courier” or “bail bondsman” would come to their home to collect the money.
Police said one victim was defrauded of nearly $300,000 in August.
“These unscrupulous scammers use personalized information to legitimize their claims, preying on the goodwill of seniors who will do anything to look after their family members. Any senior, not just those with cognitive concerns, can be victimized by these individuals,” said Staff Sgt. Andrea Koolick of Calgary police’s general investigations unit.
Sebastian Pulgarin Osorio, 29, was charged with five counts of defrauding a person over $5,000 and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 14.
Martina Kristal Valentini, 38, was charged with two counts of defrauding a person over $5,000 and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 5.
Nishaan Singh Sandhu, 21, was charged with one count of fraud over $5,000 earlier this month and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 14.
All three suspects have been released from custody on bail, according to police.
Officers said they don’t know if the suspects are connected to each other.
The CPS estimated more than $1.6 million has been stolen from approximately 122 seniors in Calgary by grandparent scammers to date, according to Thursday’s release. Officers said there was a sharp rise in this type of fraud in September with 93 reported incidents so far.
Around 35 of those reported lost money to scammers, CPS said.
CPS has the following tips when dealing with phone scams:
- Bail payments can only be paid in person at the courthouse or correctional centres and receipts will be issued.
- Only Canadian currency, debit and credit cards are accepted as payment. Gift cards, e-transfers and cheques are not accepted.
- Funds will never be transferred to other accounts.
- In the vast majority of situations, the person needing bail will make phone calls themselves to secure bail, not the police.
Anyone with information can contact Calgary police at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers.
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