A Shuswap couple reported having fallen victim to a family emergency telephone scam. (File image)

Shuswap couple fall victim to family emergency scam

Person claiming to be couple’s son said he was injured and in jail

A Shuswap resident reached out to police after falling victim to scam phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one in trouble.

Chase RCMP Sgt. Barry Kennedy said the detachment was contacted by the victim on Nov. 24. She explained to police how earlier that day her husband received a phone call from a person who was crying. Pretending to be the couple’s son, the caller said he’d been in a bad accident in Mexico, was injured and in jail, and that his lawyer would be calling.

“Although her husband noticed that the voice didn’t sound like their son, he assumed it was because the caller claimed that he was injured and was crying,” said Kennedy. “The ‘lawyer’ phoned, stating that $3,000 needed to be sent as soon as possible – to have their son released immediately from jail. Otherwise he would be held for a month.”

The ‘lawyer’ guided the couple through the process of sending money by MoneyGram at the post office.

Kennedy said the couple’s son had been in Mexico recently but, at the time of the phone call, they weren’t aware he’d already returned home.

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“The complainant realized too late that they were victims of a scam,” said Kennedy.

Family emergency scams such as these are known to police. Those who receive a call from someone claiming to be a family member of friend in desperate of money is encourage to do the following:

• Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is;

• Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer;
• Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine;

• Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret;

• And don’t wire money, or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.

If you think you’ve received a scam call, contact law enforcement authorities or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

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