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Stop Fraud: Spot Emergency Scams + Grandparent Scams


A mature woman with medium skin tone and long, greying hair, holds her phone in front of her, smiling slightly as she speaks. With flowers on the windowsill beside her, she looks out the window with an expression of familiarity, as if she recognizes the voice on the phone.

Spot fraud. Stop fraud: Emergency Scams + Grandparent Scams

At Meridian, we’re committed to helping every Member live their best life. Part of our commitment involves keeping you informed about potential risks and scams while providing you with access to support. Learning about Emergency and Grandparent Scams and recognizing the signs and tactics of this fraud can help you to protect yourself and your loved ones.

What is an Emergency Scam (also known as a Grandparent Scam)?

In this scenario, scammers call a victim and claim to be either the police or a relative (e.g. grandchild) who needs money immediately. Typically, they request funds for hospital fees, court fees, bail, or a ransom.

How to spot an Emergency Scam/Grandparent Scam

  • Scammers aim to trick victims into believing an emergency requires them to send funds. In the Grandparent variation, a grandchild is in trouble and in need of emergency funds.
  • Scammers usually request a large amount of cash to be picked up via courier, deposited into a Bitcoin or Automated Banking Machine (“ABM”), or sent via wire transfer or another money transfer service.
  • The caller may pretend to cry when speaking. This is deliberately done to disguise their voice, making the victim think they are speaking to their distraught relative.
  • Victims are often coached by the scammers to provide a different purpose for the funds when withdrawing in branch to avoid suspicion.
  • Common statements from scammers include:
    • “Don’t tell mom or dad! They’ll be upset.”
    • “There is a gag order from a judge! Don’t tell your bank or anyone else what the money is for, or you could be imprisoned or fined!”

Protect yourself with these steps

  • Always remain calm and do not act immediately. Take a moment to think rationally. Does the person on the phone sound and behave like the person you know?
  • Call or message someone you trust for support. Call the grandchild's parents or the loved one directly on a number you already know and ask questions that only they would know the answers to.
  • Resist pressure to act quickly or to send funds as instructed by the caller. Discuss this incident/request with loved ones or your branch by providing complete and truthful information.
  • Any request for bail should be discussed with appropriate legal counsel and/or legitimate law enforcement to obtain their opinion and support. Law enforcement should be contacted through independently verified channels (e.g. phone number on the official website of the Ontario Provincial Police).

Learn more about protecting what’s yours

If you encounter a scam, or believe you have been the victim of fraud, Meridian recommends that you:

  • Report the incident to your local police immediately
  • Talk to our Fraud Team at 1-866-592-2226
  • Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre


Legal Notice and Disclaimer of Liability

Information provided by Meridian Credit Union Ltd. in this article is for informational purposes only, and we cannot guarantee it is accurate or complete or current at all times. This information is not intended to provide financial or legal advice and should not be relied upon in that regard.

Meridian Credit Union communications are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice or an opinion on any issue. We would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations if desired.

For permission to republish this content, please contact the Meridian Credit Union Marketing Department at ©️ 2023 Meridian Credit Union