LGBT Emergency / Impersonation Scam

What Happens

Someone you know, usually another boardmember in a society you're a member of, calls you and says they were on vacation (often in Toronto) and were mugged and beaten up and their wallet, car keys, plane ticket etc have been stolen, and can you send them some money, please.

When you say they don't sound much like your friend, they reply that they have been severely beaten, throat bruised, tongue and lips are cut and swollen, and can you send them the money ASAP, please.

Some time later you find out that your friend is not away, is in no distress whatsoever.

Halifax relevance: this scam has hit organizations in Halifax since 2003.

How It Works

We think the perpetrator synthesizes information about a person, call him "Joe" from a variety of sources, largely web pages for the society, possibly from other glbt publications, with telephone book and city directory. Then they convince the victim that they are "Joe" and get the victim to send money via Western Union.

Western Union will give out money either based on (in this case, forged) valid ID, or an agreed-upon "Test Question" such as, What is your birthday?

If You Are The Target

The name that Phonebusters use for this scam is "Emergency" type scam, or "Impersonation."


In 2003 someone writes: one month ago I received a distress call from someone claiming to be an acquaintance. They called me collect at 10:00 at night on my business phone. I accepted the charges. The individual had told me that he was just released from the hospital after a 24 hour stay. He went on to say that he was gay bashed in Toronto by a group of people, and that they had taken his wallet and his car keys and had mangled his body and stabbed him. The conversation went on for a half hour. The individual used a combination of guilt tactics, such as "of course you know who this is" to "we exchanged business cards in Hamilton" to convince me of his sincerity. He originally was asking for $245.00 to assist him to enter his car by way of a locksmith.

He persuaded me to send him $60.00 for money to assist him to get home to Kitchener. He informed me that since he did not have any identification that he would pick the money up at Money Mart - Western Union. He could only pick up the cash with the correct answer to a prearranged question. I agreed and sent him $60.

Since then, I have found out far more consequential details about this person. He is now using information about what he gained in the conversation with me to scam people in Canada and the United States. He is using my professional name and the professional name of the conductor of the Waterloo-Wellington Rainbow Chorus to which we belong.

Further, he has now called United Churches, gay pride organizations, gay business associations, gay activists, gay choral groups, PFLAG (Parents and Friends & Family of Lesbian and Gays).... to scam them as well. I have now heard reports back from over 6 people in Ontario alone who he has contacted using my business name. Apparently he has names of over 5,000 delegates from a gay and lesbian international choral conference that took place 2 months ago in Montreal. With the entire contact list of this group he is scamming innocent people for up to $400.00 American per call. The LGBT communities are a very targeted market for this type of scam since he is using the target words Gay Bashed in his call. The LGBT communities are very well organized and have many contacts right across Canada. I am afraid that this person is very well organized and will continue his scamming until the well is dry. As I have said he has called activist friends of mine in cities all over North America. Another acquaintance went to report the attempted scam to the Toronto police department and they informed the person that since it they did not offer money that there was nothing they could do. If this con artist has made contact with you, regardless as to whether you offered money or not, please contact Phonebusters and report it. If this person has scammed you for money please report it and inform the officer of the severity of this matter.

July 10, 2005: Paul writes: Thanks. I actually got stung by this guy about 8 years ago in OTT. I forget now how much I sent him. I mad e a report with Ottawa police, but they said there wasn't much they could do as the guys was operating out of Toronto and hence a different jurisdiction. Scary thing is.... he actually sounded like the winey bastard he was portreying!

July 10, 2005: Doug writes: This person has already been in contact with the Rainbow valley club about 5 days ago and contacted many of the club.. and it has been reported to the police.

July 10, 2005: SarahRose? writes: We've had two cases involving people in Saint John this weekend. In one case the caller claimed to be Mack MacKenzie?, the Executive Assistant of PFLAG Canada. In the other, he claimed to be Wayne Harrison, the Executive Director of PFLAG Canada.

July 10, 2005: Jason writes: Thanks for the information. Here in Saint John, various members of our GLBTTQ community have been targeted by these person(s). In fact, my partner, Danny received a call from a fellow asking for money yesterday, and we alerted individuals here in Saint John that this man "is back at it again."

July 10, 2005: Douglas writes: Thanks for the warning. The churches and other service organizations have been made the butt of this scam for quite a while now. I guess it was only a matter of time.

July 10, 2005: Gilles writes: Thanks for the warning. Were you aware that similar frauds, specifically targeting gays and lesbians, have occured in Winnipeg and Calgary (and probably other cities, too)? I like to think we have a reputation for being compassionate (though perhaps gullible?).

July 11, 2005: Ron Garnett-Doucette writes: Our names (Bryan and Ron) have been used in this scam as well (I'm a contact with PFLAG here in Halifax) a little over a year ago and money was sent. Also, if you have a personal webpage on the net, this scum will use that information as well. FORWARD THIS WARNING TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

July 11, 2005: Bruce writes: Several members of GayFathersHalifax have been approached and I almost fell for it it was so convincing!

July 11, 2005: Alan writes: Thanks. The attempt has already been made. Second year in a row for me.

July 11, 2005: Julie writes: We were hit by this scam last year when someone called and said they were friends of ours and were stuck in California, had been beaten and robbed, etc. What made it worse was that they made the calls late on a Friday... we spent hours working on things before we realized we were being taken. Lucky for us, we did not send money.

July 9, 2005: Steven writes I was called twice and asked for help. The first time the voice said answer the call its an emergency. The second even stranger, He said its Dave.S, I thought it can't be and I said no to the computer operator.

2005-Summer: (Mack from Saint John writes, in June 2006) This scam happened last summer, to a good friend of mine and a good friend of the LGBTQ community. I was sick when he and his wife called me to check on my condition. Who could do something like this? I guess that we just have to be aware that there are people out there who can stoop to the lowest of levels. We all just have to be extra careful. God forbid though, if someone really does need help sometime.

September, 2005: "Anon" writes from Fredericton on June 14, 2006: In September 2005 I receievd a call one night and the person who was speaking sounded like my friend Anthony from Philadelphia. He said he was in Toronto and was on his way to catch a plane to Fredericton when he had been beaten up in the parking lot of a club. It sounded so much like him that I thought it must be him although I was wondering why he was on his way to see me when he had not let me know he was coming. He asked for $300 and I said I'd send it but he said he'd need a verification or confimation number from Western Union, who was the place I was to send it to. I had myself so convinced that it was him that despite misgivings I went ahead and arranged the transfer of funds via WU. He mentioned a name it was to go to and it sounded like Normer Herbert. I noticed that the number was a 416 area code so I thought it must be OK. He said he'd call back to get the number. By the time he called back, I had decided that before I gave him the number I had a few quesions to ask him (he had been in New Brunswick that summer and so I was going to ask him where he stayed when he was here). When the call came through, I noticed again it was another 416 and so I said before I gave them the number I had some questions. A voice immediately said something about this being Western Union and they would not let me continue. The voice sounded feminine but at the same time more like a man putting on a woman's voice. I immedaitely called Western Union and asked that the transaction be stopped since they had not gotten the number from me but Western Union (the REAL Western Union) said that it was not needed and the transaction of money had been completed. I am going to call Phonebusters since the gay community here was scammed back in the early 90's by a man on his way through town by the name of Norman Hébert. He claimed to be ill and all and took me for some money as well as the CIBC where he opened an acount. He got to Halifax and was caught but was released as I heard that he had only 6 months to live (he supposedly had AIDS as well as diabetes, et al.)so they didn't press charges. Seeing that the names seemed to be so close (Norman Herbert vs. Norman Hébert), I guess I am paranoid. I thought the man MUST be dead by now AND/OR he would not necessarily know my name still, but who'd to say? I don't know if any of this makes any sense to the reader but I hope it will reconfirm your feelings of being very wary.

June 2006

June 14, 2006: JimBain writes: EdSavage reports that at 8:30pm last night, the BlueMoonBistro wired $600 to RandallPerry and I in Toronto. We've been beaten up and robbed and can't get home.

June 14, 2006: RaymondTaavel writes: Just talked to Darren at Chives Bistro. He received a collect call from someone claiming to be RandallPerry stuck in TO, bruised and bloody unable to get a flight home.

Poor Darren was in a panic until I told him that I've been corresponding to Randall this afternoon who is safe and sound in Halifax and that he was almost the victim of a ruse.

And how did this cretin get ahold of Darren's number? Through Wayves and one suspects that is the same way this cretan acquired Randall's character as well.

Humph. Not exactly the way I envisioned Wayves being utilized outside Atlantic Canada or how we want our advertisers patronized. LOL :-)!

PS: This is the second time this week I've heard of this scam. Someone did the same thing to someone at BlueMoonBistro claiming to be MissVicki in the same scenario.

June 15, 2006: Julie writes: I'm not sure how they found their names -- probably wouldn't be too hard to access Waves or something like that online-- I think this is a pretty sophisticated scam that is more than the money -- I believe they are personally trying to damage organizations such as ours that are gay friendly too. Julie

June 15, 2006: BillMcKinnon writes:

Jim: I just received a phone call from someone saying he is JimBain. It was a collect call at around 8.00 pm The caller said he had a broken nose He said he was calling from Hamilton He asked whether I had received any messages he sent me by email; I had not The person calling did not sound like you but I did not recognize the voice He seemed concerned that I had not received any messages We then left it at that; I would check for messages He seemed rather annoyed at my doubting.

I have noted the discussions in the last day about calls of this nature

I asked the operator for the number which phoned me but the operator could not tell me. I will try to get the number which called me during business numbers but if it's a pay phone or unlisted I will not be able to find out according to one operator I talked with. Apparently only the police would know. I also do not know whether the call came in on my cell phone or land line since I call forward my cell to my land line when I am home.

Best regards and I sure hope it was not you who called from Hamilton with a broken nose., i.e. I certainly hope you have not been injured.

In any case it certainly did not sound like you nor was the speech pattern anything loke yours..

June 14, 2006: Bryan and I recieved a call yesterday afternoon (Bryan accepted the collect call) from someone claiming to be JimBain. I told the guy our community is aware of this scam and we are getting the word out there that this scam is going on again. The guy hung up. When we get our telephone bill, the telephone number will be listed on it however, I suspect they are using a payphone.

________ June 16, 2006:

Last night (Thurs.) Evie Lane of Triangles in Moncton phoned to check to see if I was alright. Some one had phoned her claiming to be Jim Bain in Hamilton - mugged, robbed, wounded, and stuck for money to come home. He asked her for $250. It was not a good impersonation as she wasn't fooled. Ms. Lane reports that he was verbably abusive to her when she refused. Laurie Roy-Girard, a wedding planner, and James Whitehead, of FLAG news, both in Fredericton were also called.

-reported by a hale and hardy Jim Bain safe at home in Musquodoboit Harbour!

Hopefully the location where the $600 was received is covered by a video surveillance system. The police will love to view that tape. Someone is getting awful brazen and it'll come back to haunt him when it catches up.

June 17, 2006: CTV News story based on people & facts from this article

September 5, 2006

 From: Jim Bain <>
 Subject: Emergency in Toronto

The phony phone call scam is back!

Last night, I apparently make 3 emergency phone calls from Toronto. I was beat up, with no money and needed to get home. I didn't sound like myself as I had a broken nose.

Actually I was safe at home. Two of the people phoned were business clients, one was a personal friend.

IF you are called - hang up and dial *57. This will mark the call so that police may trace it later. After dialing *57, call your local police and make a complaint. Get an officer's name so that you'll know who is handling the case.

This scam has been going on for about 3 years and police seem unwilling to do much. Keep the name of your officer and report it to so that we can keep pressure up to solve this crime.

Please contact everyone you know and tell them about this scam. They have used many names from our community and people should be on guard for ANY call from Ontario.

Jim Bain