More than $900K lost in grandparent scams in past 2 years: Edmonton police

Police are warning the public of the 'grandparent scam' which is on the rise. Laura Krause has more on what to look out for so you and your loved ones don't fall victim.

Edmontonians have lost nearly a million dollars in the last two years in a “grandparent” scam that’s circulating throughout Alberta.

Police say more than $900,000 was lost to scammers since January 2021.

There have been 127 reports to police of this specific type of fraud during that time frame – an average of more than $7,000 lost per victim.

Edmonton police say the largest single loss was $30,000.

“Sadly, families have lost their family heirlooms, life savings, thinking they were helping a family member in crisis,” said Det. Pierre Lemire with the EPS investigative response team.

This year alone, Calgary police say more than $1.8 million has been stolen. And Mounties say $750,000 was stolen in RCMP jurisdiction.

It’s estimated Albertans have collectively lost more than $3.5 million in 2022.

‘Life-changing’ scam involving seniors

“It is life-changing in many instances, these people are often seniors on a very fixed income,” added Cpl. Sean Milne with the RCMP federal serious and organized crime unit.

The typical grandparent scam begins with a phone call to the victim. The person on the other end of the line claims to be or know a loved one in trouble – either with the courts or law enforcement – and payment is needed to help them.

Police say the suspects often pretend to be a police officer, judge or the family member themselves.

Suspects then ask for cash, bitcoin, gift cards or sometimes e-transfers. Often, a scammer is sent to the person’s home to pick up the money.

WATCH: Grandparent scams on the rise in Calgary

Challenge of tracking down calls: police

“Some of the challenges exist where they are not always local people making phone calls, so we are always trying to track down who’s calling, and who is making the arrangements for the money to be picked up,” said Lemire. “And most of the time we are being reactive. The victim doesn’t realize they have been scammed until they finally call the relative and say ‘are you in jail, are you in trouble?’ And then they realize they have been scammed and the money is long gone.

“So the challenge for us is to come in reactively and try to basically trace back the steps, which is difficult.”


Just last week two more people were arrested by Edmonton police for grandparent scams. Both cases were similar – involving victims in their 70s, a scammer posing as a nephew, and a request for roughly $9,000 – but police say they were unrelated.

Police say the average victim’s age in grandparents scams is 79.

Two recent arrests 

“In some cases they may claim they sound different because they have a broken nose or jaw, or they might claim to be police and an officer of the court like a lawyer or a judge,” said Milne. “They may claim that they require cash for a fine, or bail, or some other emergency and ask that the victim be able to provide them with the funds.”

In both situations, the victims were told not to speak to anybody about the situation – something scammers will often say, according to police.

Two women were arrested and charged with fraud – a 31-year-old and a 26-year-old. The women were the ones who picked up the money from the victims’ homes.

“To prevent people from falling victim to these particular scams, we remind everyone to always be suspicious when anyone is asking for personal information or money over the phone, or by text message, email or via social media,” said Milne.

According to data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, only Ontarians (800) have reported more cases of a grandparent scam than Albertans (202) this year.

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