Frank Sanders may be 75 years old – but he’s not stupid and is still as sharp as a tack.
So when a woman with a posh English accent called him on his landline Saturday afternoon, claiming his grandson was using his credit card to make a large purchase in Tiffany & Co jewelers in Downtown Vancouver, Sanders smelled a rat.
After all, the Richmond retiree doesn’t even have a grandson.
“She said she worked for Tiffanys on Denman Street and was called Emma Watkins,” Sanders told the Richmond News.
“She said ‘we have a young man here who says he’s your grandson and is trying to use your credit card. We got suspicious and thought we should call you.’
“The call came in from a private number, so I was already suspicious. I told her I don’t have a grandson, to which she suggested he perhaps stole the card or made a duplicate one.
“She suggested I call the credit card company and cancel it. She said she was going to hold the young man at the store and wait for the VPD (Vancouver Police Department).”
Five minutes later, a man, also with an English accent, called Sanders – again on his landline from a private number - claiming to be an “Inspector Richmond” from the VPD.
“He said he was aware of the credit card incident and advised me to cancel the card,” added Sanders.
“I told him, ‘OK, I’ll get on it.’”
Five minutes later, “Emma” called again, asking Sanders if he had cancelled the card yet.
The phone then rang two more times, again from a private number, but there was nobody on the other end.
“I used my cellphone to call the credit card company, but there was no suspicious activity on my account,” said Sanders.
“And I called Tiffany & Co…there is no Emma Watkins working there. Neither is there an Insp. Richmond at the VPD.”
Sanders said he has a friend in North Vancouver who has heard of something similar happening, where the scammers somehow still remain on the line and hear you giving your details to the credit card company.
“I may not be the only one out there receiving these calls and I’d be concerned someone may fall for this,” he added.
“It’s very elaborate and I could see how others may be hooked into it, especially those with a grandson.
“I haven’t heard of this one before. I’ve had calls from people claiming to be from the credit card company and the usual ones from Canada Revenue Agency, all on my landline, all of them bogus.”
Sanders said he reported the calls to Richmond RCMP.
The federal government’s Anti-Fraud Centre says only five per cent of fraud victims actually report the incident.
In the context of the recent Richmond incident, the centre has advice on callers who disguise or hide their called ID.
“Don't trust your call display. It may say ‘police,’ but in reality, it is actually a scammer. It does not matter what the caller ID says, you cannot trust it,” reads the centre’s website.
“If you get a call from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
“Never give out personal information such as account numbers, social insurance number (SIN), mother's maiden name, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls.”
For more information on recognizing a fraud and reporting it, go online to AntiFraudCentre-centreantifraude.ca.
To call the Anti-Fraud Centre toll-free, dial 1-888-495-8501