Scammers pretended to be victims' relatives: police
Halton police say they've busted a crime ring of fraudsters who scammed worried grandparents out of $3 million by pretending to be their grandchildren.
Police allege the accused targeted hundreds of seniors in Canada and the United States every day, bilking their victims out of $2,000 to $6,000 each, for a total of $3 million over the past four months alone.
Investigators say victims were found through obituaries and social media accounts. The operation was run out of two Halton region homes, police say.
One victim, Juliette Swanson, got a call from someone claiming to be her grandson. She said he was crying and begging for help, saying he was in jail. The caller explained he didn't sound like her grandson Kurt because he had to sleep on the floor and caught a cold.
Less than five per cent of the victims called police once they found out they had been duped. Many were too embarrassed to let family members know they had been tricked.
Seven people have been charged in this case, with charges including participating in a criminal organization, conspiracy to defraud the public, fraud over $5,000 and impersonating a police officer.
The accused are:
- Domenico Piccinini, 42, of Oakville,
- Fiona Badran, 31, of Oakville,
- Farid Hamdan, 26, of Mississauga,
- Wyatt Trottier, 26, of Mississauga,
- Jenny Pak, 30, of Richmond Hill,
- Daniel Campos, 27, of Mississauga, and
- Ewelina Zapalski, 26, of Mississauga.
They are set to appear in a Milton court on Friday.
With a report by CTV Toronto's Pat Foran