Phone scammers targeting seniors

Telephone scam artists continue to actively hit South Cariboo residents in the pocketbook.

Many seniors living at Carefree Manor gather regularly for a little fun and games. On Jan. 26

Many seniors living at Carefree Manor gather regularly for a little fun and games. On Jan. 26

Telephone scam artists continue to actively hit South Cariboo residents in the pocketbook.

Carefree Manor manager Mel Torgerson

says four or five senior residents have been recently targeted with the “grandparents scam,” and a couple of them fell for it.

Torgerson says 100 Mile House RCMP officers recommended he contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which, he adds, provided him with helpful information on avoiding the scam.

Carefree Manor activity co-ordinator Barb Wilson then discussed the warnings with residents, and made up flyers, which she posted and handed out.

Seniors, who are alone for long periods or have dementia, can be the most vulnerable, Torgerson explains.

“When that phone rings, they’re glad to talk to someone.”

He notes the scammers typically say “hey [grandpa or grandma], guess who this is.”

Then when the

senior provides a grandchild’s name, the scammers say it is and launch into a false, but potentially heart-rending story, with a plea for money because they are “in big trouble.”

Torgerson says he hopes people will help educate and remind their elderly family members about the scam, especially those living on their own.

“I’d like to make all seniors aware that this grandparents’ scam is ongoing.”

Jason Maisonet of The Computer Whisperer notes at least 20 of his clients have been contacted by scammers, identifying themselves as Virtual PC Doctor, from a Jamaican phone number.

It’s a well-known fraud, he says, where cold calling scammers tell people they have a computer virus in an attempt to scare them into connecting hackers to their computers.

“These guys are scum, but they sound very professional and legit and have fooled some of my customers.”

Maisonet says the callers prompt people to type in a web address that will infect their PC, and then type in a code at www.logmein.com (never visit this address) that gives hackers complete access to personal computer files and banking information.

The scammers then ask for a credit card number to “clean up” the infected files, as well as having people leave their computer on while they fraudulently access files and use the Internet connection for costly online services.

“People should avoid doing anything with these guys when they call, at all costs.”

A lot of Maisonet’s clients are elderly with their first computers, and he says they can be more easily duped into believing they have a virus, he explains.

“One person gave them their credit card, and the scammers called back a few days later and said ‘if you don’t authorize me another $100 we’re going to put [the virus] back and you’ll lose all the pictures of your kids.’ They’re very aggressive.”

For more information or to report a scam, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501, e-mail to info@antifraud centre.ca, or visit www.phonebusters.com.