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Niagara police release audio of grandparent scam involving fraudster claiming to be RCMP officer


New audio has been released in which a man pretends to be an RCMP officer in an attempt to rip off one grandmother in the Niagara Region by claiming that her grandchild needed bail money.

The recording of the incident was released by Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) on Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness about the "grandparent scam" after seeing an increase in complaints.

"The victim had some concerns in the initial stages of the call, which prompted her to record it," an NRPS spokesperson said in an email. "The incident was reported to police and used in part of our investigation."

In the audio, the fraudster informs the woman that her grandchild was involved in a car accident, and a subsequent search of the vehicle led to the finding of 10 pounds of marijuana. He said her grandchild, who was a passenger in the car, was taken into custody for questioning.

The woman asks the fraudster whose car it was, and he says he cannot provide the owner's identity.

The fraudster then tells the woman that her grandchild needs a bond to be posted to secure his release.

"Are you willing and able to assist him?" the fraudster asks before informing her that the bail bond is refundable and she can get it back in 48 business hours.

When the woman asked how much the bail was, the fraudster said it was $9,550.

"I don't know if I got that much in the bank at the moment," she tells the suspect.

The woman later asked the scammer's name, who identified himself to her as "Officer Antonio Conte." He also gave his supposed badge number.

The scammer told the woman that the money needed to be in cash, repeating that it was refundable and that she would get it back in the form of a certified check from the federal government.

"Any wire transfer, credit card payment, bank transfer, check is going to take 48 to 72 business hours to clear. So if you want him released here today, it's got to be put up in cash," he said.

The fraudster also informs her that there is a gag order in the case, so she cannot discuss it with anyone.

"So if I go to the bank and want to take this kind of money out and they say, what are you taking it out for, what do I tell them?" she asked.

"Just tell them that you are doing some renovations in your kitchen or bathroom," he answered. "Don't tell them anything about the case. That'll get his bail revoked and then he'll get in more legal trouble. I don't want that."

On Wednesday, NRPS urged residents not to wire money or give scammers any information when they received a call about family members needing help.

"Hang up and call your grandchild or the family member back with their real phone number," police said.

NRPS also suggested an approach to scams.

"Seek out information from an official source, educate yourself and then educate three persons in your life who may be vulnerable to becoming victims of scam crime," police said.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), police across the country have arrested more than 70 "money mules" picking up money at victim residences since 2021.

The CAFC said the scam has resulted in over $23 million in losses as of April 2024. Top Stories

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