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Police arrest 14 suspects in major 'grandparent scam' probe

Since February 2022, the group of suspects allegedly defrauded victims out of $2.2M
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Fourteen individuals have been arrested in connection to an emergency grandparent scam that targeted victims across Canada.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) anti-rackets branch began an intelligence probe into a group involved in the fraud in September 2022. In February 2023, the probe was formalized as an OPP Criminal Investigation Branch-led joint forces operation, known as Project Sharp, and consisted of 11 police forces in Ontario, including Halton Regional Police, and Quebec, according to an OPP news release.

Aimed at seniors with a landline telephone, the group using the emergency grandparent scam pretended to be an officer or a lawyer and claimed to have the victim's grandchild or family member in custody. They would request bail money to secure the victim's family member's release, police said.

In most cases, "money mules," or unsuspecting couriers, were used to collect the money, police said. The victims were instructed not to speak to anyone due to a "gag order" they said was in effect. Since February 2022, the group of suspects is responsible for over $2.2 million in reported losses across Canada, police said. 

From January 22, 2024 to April 8, 2024, there were 126 identified victims who lost approximately $739,000 to the organized crime group running the fraud. Of these 126 victims, 15 were re-victimized multiple times, losing more than $243,000. Investigators have worked with financial institutions and the Canadian Bankers Association to prevent or recover more than $559,000 in losses, police said.

Though victims were located across Canada, the majority of the targeted individuals live in Ontario, with an age range of 46 to 95 years old. All of the victims were provided supports and fraud prevention material.

As a result of the investigation, 14 individuals were arrested and 56 charges were laid. 

Project Sharp is a joint forces operation led by the OPP and involves support from the Sûreté Du Québec and police services in Halton, York, Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, Durham, Ottawa, Montréal, Laval, and Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario. Additional assistance was provided by United States Homeland Security Investigations, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of the emergency grandparent scam or any fraud is urged to contact their local police, the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or You can also report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. For resources on scams and fraud, visit

"Our dedicated officers tirelessly pursued justice in this complex investigation by working diligently to investigate, disrupt and dismantle the criminal organization targeting vulnerable individuals across the country. Frauds can cause significant emotional and financial distress to the victims, and our officers remain steadfast in their mission to safeguard our communities," said OPP Deputy Commissioner Marty Kearns.

"Project Sharp has disrupted the activities of a well-organized crime group using the grandparent scam that has affected numerous victims across Canada. The unity between law enforcement partners demonstrated our commitment to stopping these crimes and preventing further victimization. Cooperation and intelligence sharing were key to the success of this operation," said Benoit Dubé, deputy director general, criminal investigations, Sûrete du Québec