Ottawa police are warning the public that so-called "grandparent" scam fraudsters are active this summer, after receiving reports of people being defrauded out of $10,000 to $30,000 over the past seven days.

Police have received 20 reports of people being targeted by fraudsters over the past week.

In the "grandparent" scam, an elderly person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be his or her grandchild, police said.

"The caller says that they have been arrested and they urgently need you to send money or gift cards for their bail," police said in a media release on Friday.

"The fraudster will make it difficult to understand what they are saying or to recognize the voice in an attempt for victims to fill in the blanks as to who they are. They are incredibly convincing and count on the emotional factor."

Police say the victims have told investigators they were made to believe by the fraudster that a "Gag Order" was put in place to protect the identity of the police officer who is going to be collecting the money.

"This fake secrecy demand puts victims in an awkward position; they will then shy away from telling any other persons about the demand for money from a family member," police said.

Police say officers will never ask for money for bail from family members, nor will they issue "Gag Orders" on the identity of the officer.

If you do receive a suspicious call, police recommend doing the following:

  • Never confirm any personal information over the phone.
  • Always verify who is calling. If it is a family member as they claim, tell them you will call them back and use the number you have for this person. 
  • Don’t be pressured. Take some time to process what you have been told, to see if it makes sense. Ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion, or if in doubt, call your local police service.