Beware of a Toronto scam

Hanover - Hanover Police are warning residents to be on the lookout for fraud, as a Hanover senior was taken for $6,000 last week.
Last week, Donald Westberg, 71, was tricked by a caller, posing as his grandson, asked him to wire money to help resolve a legal problem.
According to police, in this recent scam, callers often identify themselves as a grandchild and typically say they’re in custody in Canada. They sometimes ask for money to pay for emergencies including car, or in this case, legal troubles.
Last Wednesday (Feb. 25), Westberg said he received a call from someone posing as his grandson, who attends Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. The caller said he’d gone to Canada with a friend for a wedding, rented a car and failed a sobriety test.
“He said he was being held for $3,400 and that a public attorney would call back in an hour with specific instructions,” Westberg said. “I figured I couldn’t call back on [my grandson’s] cell phone because they probably took it, so I didn’t move on that. But, it sounded so much like him I was emotionally wrapped up in it.”
Another caller purporting to be the lawyer asked Westberg to send a Moneygram to Toronto for bail money. The caller told Westberg where the nearest Moneygram location was: at the Shaw’s Supermarket in Hanover.
The next morning, Westberg said he received another call from the ‘lawyer’ saying that Westberg’s grandson had been sued, and requested another $2,500 to free him.
“I regretfully did the same thing,” he said. “I told [my grandson] to call me when he was on his way back to New Hampshire.”
After a few hours of not receiving a call, Westberg called his grandson’s cell phone and learned he had never been to Canada and the entire thing was a rouse.
Westberg is still confused as to how the callers got the personal information to initiate the scam.
Even the FBI was only able to confirm that the money was picked up in Toronto.
“I’m hoping to tell everyone I can so they can hopefully avert this heartache,” Westberg said.
Hanover police Lt. Robert Heywood recommended contacting other family members to confirm any of this kind of information, before making any other kind of move.
“It has happened in other communities,” Heywood said. “Elder fraud is becoming a problem and we’re not sure how they’re getting the information that a particular senior has a grandchild.”
Heywood added that the callers often play upon seniors’ sympathy and compassion.
According to the National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, nearly a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older. Studies by AARP show that most older telemarketing fraud victims don’t realize that the voice on the phone could belong to someone who is trying to steal their money.
Additionally, the FBI says there are thousands of fraudulent telemarketing companies operating in the United States and an increasing number of illegal telemarketers who target U.S. residents from locations in Canada and other countries.
Similar scams took place in Middleboro and Braintree in January. In both cases, the caller, posing as a college aged grandchild, asked seniors to send money because their kin was involved in a car accident in Canada.
In Braintree, the senior, suspecting fraud, called Ontario police and learned the call had been a hoax and canceled the transaction, worth nearly $4,800.
The Attorney General’s office has forged partnerships with elder organizations to raise the profile of elder protection issues and provide training to help law enforcement and elder care professionals identify, investigate, and assist in the prosecution of elder abuse and financial scams. Individuals can contact the attorney general’s consumer hotline at 617-727- 8400.
Locally, Old Colony Elderly Services can be contacted at 508-584-1561 if seniors are suspecting a financial scam.


I have mailed a cheque to Hanover Police Chief Walter Sweeny to help Mr. and Mrs Westberg. I urge all home inspectors to help out, especially Canadian home inspectors, after all, this is a Canadian crime on two very innocent US residents. The Westbergs were saving this money for a new roof. I’m appalled that this crime was perpetrated from right here in Toronto and I feel obligated to help. I hope that their faith can be restored or at the very least that the Westbergs do not have a bad image of Canadians. These people have not only endured a monetary loss, they have suffered a great deal of emotional stress.

Hanover Police Department
Hanover, MA