Here’s something truly despicable: scammers who prey on elderly people in what’s called a “grandparents scam.” These criminals pretend to be a grandchild in a crisis situation and ask for immediate financial assistance, and unfortunately, this scam has become all too common in recent years.
But there’s one Canadian grandmother who wasn’t going to let these scammers get away with it. Bonnie Bednarik, a 74-year-old from Windsor, Ontario, was targeted by two scammers who tried to steal $9,300 from her in a grandparents’ scam. But she was too smart for them.
At a press conference with police on Thursday, Bednarik recounted the conversation she had with the scammer, who called her on Wednesday pretending to be her grandson. “I said, ‘Who is this?’” she recalled, via the CBC. “And he said, ‘Come on. It’s your grandson.’”
“He said he was in jail,” she continued. “He said he got into an accident with his friend, Dave. It was Dave’s car. He found pills in the glove compartment. He was arrested, and he was in jail, and he needed the bond money. … And he had a few tears, and he told me he loved me.”
The scammer said he needed $9,300 Canadian, about $6,800 U.S., for bail money. But Bednarik wasn’t fooled. She addressed the scammer by a name that was not her grandson’s, then bought some time by telling him she needed to call her bank and make sure she could take out such a large sum of money all at once. The scammer said he’d call back in 15 minutes. Instead of calling the bank, she called the police.
“And then I bought another hour because I told him my husband wasn’t home, and I needed the car to go get the money,” she said. Police then set up “static surveillance” around her home. When the two scammers showed up to Bednarik’s house to collect the cash, police intercepted and arrested them. They then recovered two more packages with money from two previous scams, a police press release stated.
“I was so happy to hear that they caught them,” Bednarik said.
Now, this is where things get really interesting. You see, the police were able to catch these scammers because of Bednarik’s quick thinking, but they also recovered the money from two previous scams. That means these criminals have been at this for a while.
And it’s not just happening in Canada, either. The FCC has warned about these scams in the U.S. as well, saying that scammers who gain access to personal information are creating storylines to prey on the fears of grandparents. The scammers then call and impersonate a grandchild in a crisis situation, asking for immediate financial assistance. The callers may even “spoof” the caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from a trusted source.
That’s why it’s so important to be vigilant and to call the police when you think you’re being scammed. Bednarik and local police officials are urging others to do the same.
“I want people to call us so that way, we know what’s going on, and then obviously we can take whatever course of action we’re going to take,” said Sgt. Rob Durling of the Windsor Police Service’s financial crimes unit.
So, let’s all take a page out of Bonnie Bednarik’s book and fight back against these scammers. Let’s be vigilant, let’s be smart, and let’s protect our loved ones from these despicable criminals.