A group of scam artists who defrauded seniors across the U.S. and Canada out of millions of dollars with phony calls from grandchildren in trouble have been busted by police in Toronto.
Hundreds of senior citizens -- most of them American -- were swindled out of some $3 million after responding to calls from people they believed were their grandchildren in desperate need of money, AARP reported.The Canadian con artists made hundreds of calls daily, convincing more than a dozen gullible grandparents a day to wire them thousands of dollars.
Victims were chosen using phone lists from various sources to zero in on prime , according to the Star. Seven people were arrested for running the scam, which police say began last November.
"The dollar figure losses connected to the fraud -- known as the grandson scam or emergency scam -- are astounding," Halton Police Chief Gary Crowell told a news conference Wednesday, the Toronto Star reported.
"The perpetrators were making an average of 200 calls per day, successfully targeting 15 to 20 victims and defrauding them of between $2,500 to $6,000 each," Crowell . "The scam targets one of our most vulnerable populations and cruelly plays upon their emotions to swindle them out of thousands of dollars."
According to a script seized when police arrested the scammers, a bogus caller pretending to be a grandson would telephone an elderly person, claim he'd been arrested while on and ask for money in order to be released from jail.
A second con man claiming to be a lawyer or police officer then got on the line to help convince the victim the story was true. Once the victim fell for the scam, he or she was given instructions on how to wire money to an offshore account.
Although the total amount of victims remains unknown, police said they certainly number in the hundreds, and possibly in the thousands.
The crime ring operated out of two in the Toronto suburbs, from which police seized laptops, smart phones and $20,000 in Canadian dollars, the Star reported. The seven defendants were charged with participating in a criminal organization, conspiracy to defraud the public and impersonating a police officer.
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