The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is warning residents about fraudsters who are posing as employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Const. Ian MacDonald said the APD received 31 reports from Dec. 1 to 18 from people who received either an official-looking email or a phone call claiming that they owed money to the CRA.
The residents were told they had anywhere from 45 minutes to 24 hours to make their payment and, if they didn’t comply, police would be dispatched to their home.
They were told to wire the money to a location provided to them in either Ontario or the eastern United States.
MacDonald said three of the people who reported the matter to police had sent sums of between $200 to $2,000.
MacDonald said one of the 31 complainants provided to police the phone number – obtained from his call display – of the fraudulent call.
An officer who tried the number was surprised when someone answered and identified himself as a CRA employee.
The officer pretended that he was trying to verify how much he owed and where the person to whom he was speaking was based.
The man said he was in Ontario, but hung up the phone when the officer revealed his identity.
MacDonald said the fact that people can call a valid number and reach somebody who pretends to be working for the CRA shows that scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their techniques.
He said it is encouraging that most people recognize the communication is a scam, but the fraudsters are depending on a small portion of the population.
“If only five per cent of people contacted end up going for it, that’s a lot of money.”
The CRA indicates on its website that it never requests personal information from a taxpayer by email and advises that legitimate CRA phone numbers can be verified by using the numbers on the CRA website at cra-arc.gc.ca/cntct/phn-eng.html.
To report suspicious activity, contact the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225.