Income tax scam is still snagging victims

Callers claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency target people in Abbotsford and elsewhere

An ongoing scam involves callers falsely claiming that people owe back taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency.

An ongoing scam involves callers falsely claiming that people owe back taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency.

The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has received dozens of recent complaints about an ongoing scam in which the caller claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Const. Ian MacDonald said the volume of complaints about the issue has remained steady, although the fraud has been prevalent for a few years.

He said many of the reports are from people who were aware of the scam but want police to know that it’s still going on, while many others have been fooled.

“We still have people who are being duped,” MacDonald said.

However, he said the amount of money for which people are being taken seems to be dropping.

The CRA has issued numerous warnings about the scam, which involves a caller saying that taxes are owed and payment must be made immediately or the person could face charges, jail or deportation.

The caller, who is often threatening and uses aggressive language, requests immediate payment by credit card or convinces the victim to purchase a prepaid credit card and to call back immediately with the card information.

In one case reported last September by the APD, a local couple sent a $1,500 money transfer to the caller and then immediately reported the matter to police.

While the couple was at the APD, they received a call from the fraudster and it was answered by an officer, who identified himself to the caller.

The scammer became belligerent, demanded that the money transfer go through, and wanted the badge number of the officers involved.

The fraudster eventually hung up, and an officer was able to block the financial transaction.

MacDonald said as more and more people become aware of a particular scam, the fraudsters usually move on to something else, but the CRA version remains.

“This one obviously continues to work,” he said.

Investigators believe most of the calls are coming from overseas, with the phone numbers showing up on the caller ID having been altered, making it virtually impossible to confirm an identity.

The CRA states that when it calls, it has “established procedures” in place to protect personal information. It never requests prepaid credit cards, never leaves personal information on an answering machine, and never asks for information about passports, health cards or driver’s licences.

To confirm the authenticity of a CRA phone number, call 1-800-959-8281.

To report such a call, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501. For more information about CRA fraud, visit cra-arc.gc.ca.

TEXT OF AN ACTUAL CALL

The following is the text of an actual voice message left by a fraudster claiming to be from the CRA and posted on the CRA website:

“The reason behind this call is to notify you that we have registered a criminal case against your name concerning a tax evasion and tax fraud in the federal court house.  So if you want any further information about this case, please make sure you give us a call back as quick as possible to our direct hotline number to the Canada Revenue Agency Headquarters. That is 613-927-9919. I will please repeat the number. It is 613-927-9919.  If we don’t receive a call from your side, please be prepared to face the legal consequences, as the issue of tax is extremely serious and time-sensitive. So have a blessed time.”