Phone scam
The woman, who received a fishy call from a man posing as her grandson on Wednesday, was set up to be one of the "grandparent scams" in Canada. Image Credit: Gulf News

Phone scammers in Canada messed with the wrong person when they solicited money from a woman in Windsor, Ontario - who then plotted with local police to catch them.

The woman, who received a fishy call from a man posing as her grandson on Wednesday, was set up to be one of the "grandparent scams" that are targeting seniors in Canada and elsewhere. The caller claimed he had been arrested after an accident, cried and said he loved her, she told reporters at a news conference.

He said he urgently needed 9,300 Canadian dollars, or $6,800, in bail.

The woman, identified by the Windsor Police Service as a grandmother named Bonnie Bednarik, called the man by a name that was not her grandson's name. She then set up her own sting operation. Bednarik, 74, pretended she needed to call the bank and get a car from her husband, she told reporters. Meanwhile, she was coordinating with police to set up surveillance around her home.

When two suspects showed up to claim the money, officers intercepted them, according to a police report on Thursday. The police also recovered two packages containing money from two previous scams, including one in a town about 30 minutes away.

Police arrested two suspects, a 19-year-old man from Windsor and a 22-year-old man from Tecumseh, Ontario. Each has been charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000.

Grandparent scams target the elderly and usually involve the scammer pretending to be a relative in distress and in need of money.

In 2022, Canada saw more than 9.2 million Canadian dollars lost to "emergency scams," which include grandparent scams, a February statement from the Canadian government said. It marked an almost fourfold increase from the 2.4 million Canadian dollars in losses reported in 2021.

Last summer, seniors in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were robbed of 100,000 Canadian dollars in less than six days by grandparent scammers.

"Although arrests have been made in this case, the Windsor Police Service continues to advise community members to be vigilant when receiving phone calls from people claiming to be a relative," the department said in a statement.

"Fraudsters prey on our emotions and our caring nature," Dominic Chong, a detective superintendent with the Ontario Provincial Police, said in February about the uptick in scam crimes. "Scammers exploit our fears and defraud our seniors out of thousands of dollars everyday across this province."