Windsor used by scammers to target Americans (continued)

According to Windsor Police the scam has been going on for years.

The way it works is that someone poses as a lawyer or a family member of an elderly person – usually a woman - living in an American city. The most recent case has been Toledo Ohio.

The caller phones the elderly person in Toledo, identifies himself as a grandchild, and says he has been arrested in Windsor and needs money to be released and return home while awaiting trial.

Usually the money asked for is between $2500 and $3500. The unsuspecting grandmother goes to a money wire service and sends the money to the caller.

But police say the scam artists are not operating from Windsor, but from Montreal.

“There’s no connection to the Windsor area,” Staff Sergeant Gerry Corriveau of Windsor Police’s financial crimes division, says.

“The ones we’ve traced have been operating out of the Greater Montreal area.”

Indeed one of the calls in Toledo was traced to Montreal, Lieutenant David Schmidt, head of Toledo Police’s property investigations section, said.

Corriveau said this is one of the oldest scams and rears its head from time to time.

Even though the perpetrators are in Montreal, Windsor is used to give “a bit of reality.”

Windsor is a convenient border city and people from Ohio often come here to gamble at the casino or for the city’s nightlife. So it would sound logical if a loved one was calling from Windsor.

“I’m sure if you went to the greater British Columbia area you’d have the same scam being perpetrated in Washington State,” Corriveau said.

Schmidt said the latest reported call was someone identifying himself as a lawyer phoning to say his client was arrested for drunk driving and possessing drugs and asking for bail money.

The “lawyer” then turned the phone over to a younger-sounding male who says,” Grandma is that you?” When the elderly person responds by saying the name of one of her own grandchildren like “Bobby” or “Billy,” the person on the other end of the line says, “Yes, this is Billy” and asks if money can be wired.

Sometimes the caller says he has been in an accident and needs money for a hospital bill.

Schmidt says that other than advising residents to be suspicious of such calls there is little American authorities can do to bring charges.

“For prosecution for cross border for small cash crime it’s nearly impossible.”

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