Beware scams that target older adults

So-called ‘grandparent scam’ is just one ruse crooks use

Fraud is the number one crime against older Canadians, according to the Canadian government.

It notes seniors are targeted more than others because they’re often home during the day to answer the door or phone, can be more trusting and often don’t have family or friends around from whom to get a second opinion.

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Although people of all ages can be victims of scams, there are a couple targeted specifically at seniors. They include the grandparent scam in which the caller claims to be a grandchild who is in jail or hospitalized, is scared and needs money, but doesn’t want to tell his or her parents.

Another scam popular with fraudsters who target seniors involves counterfeit prescription drugs. Crime Stoppers warns seniors looking for affordable medication online need to beware because not all pharmacy websites are reliable, and advises against buying prescription medication online.

Seniors can be victims of other scams popular with fraudsters such as those where the caller is posing as a Revenue Canada agent or is offering free prizes.

Competition Bureau Canada has its Little Black Book of Scams on its website,, which has a long list of scams and spotting red flags to avoid becoming a victim. Other scams and advice can be found at another federal website:

Those with seniors in their lives should talk to them to help them recognize a scam.

All frauds and scams should be reported, even if the victim is embarrassed or feels the amount of money is too small to worry about. In addition, if it doesn’t look like the money will be returned, reporting it could still help stop the con artist from scamming someone else.

The government suggests all frauds and scams be report to local police or to call PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501. 

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