A would-be scammer is facing a fraud charge after police arrested her while allegedly trying to collect “bail money” from a Delta resident.
Police say a local woman received a series of phone calls on Thursday, Jan. 13 from someone claiming to be with the RCMP. The caller said the woman urgently needed to provide bail money for her grandson, who the caller identified by name, and told her to keep their conversation confidential.
The victim handed over $10,000 that day to a person who collected the cash from her at her home.
“Unfortunately, scammers will often pretend to be with police or government agencies in order to gain the trust of the victim,” Insp. Brian Hill, who is in charge of frontline patrol at the Delta Police Department, said in a press release.
“Phone calls from these scammers may even appear to be coming from the agency or police department. However, we want the public to know it’s very easy for phone numbers to be faked or spoofed.”
On Friday, Jan. 14, the scammers called back, saying the victim’s grandson needed another $25,000 for “probation.”
“Fortunately, [the woman] became suspicious, particularly when her supposed grandson was not able to answer questions,” Hill said. “She called Delta police, and we immediately began an investigation. Thanks to her timely alert, our officers were in place when the suspect showed up at her door that evening.”
Police arrested the suspect without incident and are currently working with other Metro Vancouver police departments to determine if this incident is linked to other similar complaints, some of which have been reported on by Lower Mainland media outlets.
“I can also confirm that there are outstanding persons of interest in this matter with whom the police would like to speak,” Hill said.
Police have not recovered the $10,000 that the victim initially handed over.
Marie-Jeanne Belanger, 22, of Quebec is now facing one charge of committing fraud over $5,000. Belanger was released from custody on Jan. 17 on a number of conditions.
“Canadian police will not contact you in any manner to request funds for bail money, probation, etc.,” Delta police said in a press release. “If you suspect the person on the phone pressuring you to hand over money may not be who they claim, hang up immediately.”
Police advise using the internet to find a general phone number for the police department or agency the person claims to represent and calling them directly to determine if there is any legitimacy to what the person on the phone is claiming.
Anyone who believes they might have been the victim of fraud is asked to report the matter to their local police — in Delta, call the DPD’s non-emergency line at 604-946-4411.