Major Bust in Quebec Halts Multimillion-Dollar Grandparents Scam Ring

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A major investigation has culminated in the arrest of 13 individuals on charges related to an elaborate “grandparents” scam. The operation, spearheaded by the Quebec provincial police (SQ), targeted a group operating largely out of Montreal and heavily focused on scamming senior citizens across America.

The accused, based in several Montreal regions including Laval, Saint-Laurent, Kirkland, and Chambly, were apprehended in a coordinated law enforcement effort involving not only the SQ, but also the Montreal police (SPVM), the Laval police (SPL), and the Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu-Saint-Laurent. The operation was reportedly linked to organized criminal activities.

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The modus operandi of the alleged scammers relied on falsely representing themselves to their victims, typically senior citizens. Posing as family members, often grandchildren, or legal professionals in urgent need of funds, they duped their victims into providing significant amounts of money, ostensibly for bail payments.

In addition, American agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Baltimore office, along with several U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and other police and surveillance agencies, participated in the operation, evidence of a strong transcontinental collaboration to intercept and dissolve the group.

The suspects range in age from their late twenties to mid-thirties, with one individual aged 43. They stand accused on charges including fraud over $5,000, conspiracy, and commission of an offence for a criminal organization relative to their activities between May 2019 and March 2021.

According to the FBI’s Baltimore field office, they estimate that the group scammed upwards of $2.5 million from a reported 85 senior victims. Shelley Orman, a representative of the FBI field office, went on to confirm that five residents of Florida and Maryland had already been convicted for their involvement in the criminal conspiracy.

The deception orchestrated by the scammers, as relayed by the district attorney’s office, involved the perpetration of a complex narrative. They would represent themselves as police officers or legal professionals, informing the victims falsely of a relative, usually a grandchild, who had been implicated in a car crash or crime-related incident and needed financial assistance.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, have observed an increase in the prevalence of such ‘grandparent’ scams within Canada – a development that warrants both vigilance and action.