The Chief Executive Officer for Steinbach Credit Union (SCU) says staff are taking the Grandparent Scam very seriously.

According to police in Manitoba, the version of this scam which seems to be popular right now involves a criminal making a phone call to an elderly person and pretending to be a relative in need of financial assistance. The criminal will often say they have been arrested and need bail money. The caller then convinces the senior to pay a sum of money to an individual who will be swinging by their residence to collect the cash. The senior is made to believe that the money is necessary for their loved one to be released from prison.

Glenn Friesen, CEO of SCU says he cannot comment on specific instances, however, he notes that at SCU they take the matter very seriously and are committed to supporting all of their members. Friesen says their staff undergo regular training in order to understand the warning signs of fraud. 

The Grandparent Scam is not a new form of fraud. And, Friesen says as soon as their Credit Union is aware that this scam is making the rounds again, they will communicate with staff to watch for warning signs. He notes RCMP will also alert them to new scams that might be circulating.

"They let us know and we raise the level of alert several degrees and make sure that we do all that we can to protect our members," he says. 

Friesen explains that if a teller or other staff member at SCU becomes suspicious that a member might be withdrawing money in order to unknowingly pay off a fraudster, they will ask questions. Friesen says they will try to ask what the money is for and if they are certain that withdrawing such a large amount is what they truly want to do. He adds they might also ask if the member would sooner pay by cheque, noting how dangerous it can be to pay with cash. Another question the staff member might ask is whether they have spoken with a family member about withdrawing the money.

However, Friesen says ultimately the money belongs to the member and they are entitled to do with it, what they want.

"And if they absolutely insist on taking it out, we have no choice but to give it to them," adds Friesen.

Meanwhile, Friesen says over the years SCU staff have definitely prevented members from being victims of scams. At the same time, he says there have also been occasions when SCU members have fallen victim. 

"The successes are well received by the members," notes Friesen. "Unfortunately, the failures result in members losing money and it is very unfortunate."

Friesen encourages people to talk to their parents and help them understand what to watch for.