The OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), formerly Phonebusters, are warning the public of the "emergency scam" that is seeing a major increase across Canada.
CAFC advises that the emergency scam has grown by 157% over the reports received in 2008 and suspects have, in most instances, targeted victims through email.
This scam traditionally uses telemarketing to solicit victims. The scam is operated by fraudsters claiming to be a family member or a close friend of a family member and advising the potential victim about an urgent situation that requires immediate funds. Common themes have been that the family member was arrested or got into an accident while traveling abroad. Thus, fees are required for hospital expenses or bail. The recent variant to this scheme is the solicitation being sent to contact lists from hijacked email accounts. This increases the threat of this scam, as a trust level already exists between the sender and recipient; the fraudsters no longer have to pretend to be a family member or close friend.