Canada’s newest phone scam has made its perpetrators over $60,000 richer, and police and investigators are actively warning the public about phone calls from individuals who falsely claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The public was first alerted in May when a number of victims were identified in a Southeast Asian community within Calgary, and two more have come to the police’s attention this past December, bringing the total number of identified victims to 35 in 2014. The scammers told the victims that they owed money in back taxes and would be arrested if the debt was not paid immediately. They were told to pay using either a money transfer service or prepaid credit cards and kept on the phone until the transfers were complete. Citizens are particularly concerned that the scammers already had at least some of their victim’s personal information, such as their names, addresses, and even details of their bank accounts, prior to calling.
Collectively, the scammers have obtained over $60,000 from the victims.
Anyone who knows of a possible suspect or has been a victim of the scam is encouraged to call the non-emergency number of the Calgary Police Service: 403-266-1234. Any suspicious phone calls of this nature may also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online (www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraud.ca) or by phone: 1-888-495-8501.
To confirm that a call from the CRA is legitimate, citizens may directly call back the agency via one of its published telephone numbers, including: 1-800-959-8281.
Finally, the CRA offers four tips to help citizens determine whether a debt-related phone call is a scam:
- The CRA never requests any personal information via e-mail from taxpayers.
- The CRA never requests information pertaining to drivers’ licenses, health cards, or passports from taxpayers.
- The CRA does not divulge a taxpayer’s information to another person without the taxpayer’s formal authorization.
- The CRA does not leave personal information on answering machines.