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Drugstore staff prevent woman from losing thousands to scam

Employees from two retailers and police required to convince woman she was being scammed
Drugstore staff prevented an elderly woman from being bilked out of $4,000. (News Bulletin file photo)

A Nanaimo Shoppers Drug Mart employee’s eyebrows went up recently when an elderly woman asked to buy $4,000 in gaming cards.

According to a Nanaimo RCMP press release, the incident happened March 8 when the woman in her 80s entered the Shoppers Drug Mart on Mary Ellen Drive in north Nanaimo and told the employee she’d just received a phone call from her son who told her he was in financial trouble and the only way he could get out of his mess was for her to purchase $4,000 worth of Steam cards. She was told to then send them to her son’s lawyer’s office on the Lower Mainland. The woman told the employee she’d spoken with her son’s lawyer and also an RCMP officer who’d repeated the same story.

The employee explained to the woman this was a scam to which the elderly woman replied that she was aware of the iTunes scam, but that this was real. Four other Shoppers employees also attempted to convince the woman she was being scammed. Finally the woman said if they wouldn’t sell her the cards, she’d get them from Walmart.

While she was driving to Walmart, the Shoppers employees called the police, the dispatch operator who took the call alerted Walmart and when she arrived at the store, the woman was once again thwarted in her attempt to buy the Steam cards.

The woman was finally convinced it was a scam when the dispatch operator and a Nanaimo RCMP officer followed up to explain the situation over the phone.

“These types of scams tug at your heartstrings, which is why they are so effective,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

To learn more about frauds and scams go to the Canadian Anti Fraud centre at

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