Sharp Police Officer Stops Scammer from Defrauding Elderly Woman

Posted On Monday March 29, 2021
Anyone can be the victim of fraud, but elderly residents are particularly vulnerable
Anyone can be the victim of fraud, but elderly residents are particularly vulnerable

A patrol officer prevented a senior citizen from being de-frauded of all her bank savings after a chance encounter on a downtown street.

Cst. Tyler Hawkins was working on Dalhousie Street at about 11:30 am on March 9, when an elderly woman approached him to ask for directions to the police station.

“I gave her directions but thinking I might be able to save her a trip, I asked her why she needed to go there,” said Cst. Hawkins.   

The 85-year-old woman told him Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), contacted her because she was a suspect in a major theft case from banks in British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia for more than $100,000. To avoid going to jail she was instructed to tell no one and withdraw everything she had in her bank account. The man also got her date of birth and social insurance number. 

“He made reference to an appointment the next day with police, which is why she asked for directions,” said Cst. Hawkins. “She was on her way to the bank when she saw me.”

Cst. Hawkins recognized this as a scam and told the woman as much. He also explained how these callers prey on honest people and attempt to steal identities with the personal information they get.

While Cst. Hawkins was with her, the man called again. The woman put the call on speaker so the officer could hear. 

“All the red flags were there,” said Cst. Hawkins. “There was a delayed response from his end, as the automated calling system signaled someone picked up and the connection was poor, both indications the call isn’t local.”

The caller was pushy, demanding the woman get to the bank. Cst. Hawkins spoke to the man by identifying himself as the woman’s friend. He became upset, saying he told her not to tell anyone what she was doing, then the man asked for Cst. Hawkins’ date of birth and social insurance number. When the officer questioned why this information was necessary, the man hung up.

“We want residents to know, CRA will not call you in this manner,” said Cst. Hawkins, “nor will they ask you to pay what you owe with gift cards.”

In addition to taking a police report about the attempted fraud the officer advised the woman to notify her bank to get security tips to safeguard her account, to contact Service Canada about her SIN possibly being compromised and to report a possible identity fraud to Equifax Canada. 

March is Fraud Prevention Month. From 2018 to 2020, there was a 29% increase in overall fraud reports made to Ottawa Police.  Here are Cst. Hawkins’ tips to prevent fraud and identity theft:

“Anyone can be the victim of fraud, but elderly residents are particularly vulnerable,” said Cst. Hawkins. “Be sure to speak to elderly friends, neighbours or family members about potential frauds and how to avoid them.”