EMBRUN — Telephone fraudsters impersonating Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officials have triggered several complaints to Russell County OPP about this ongoing scam.
Whether by telephone or by email, the pitch involves one of two variations. The fraudsters demand that outstanding taxes be paid by a money service business or by pre-paid debit/credit cards — or they are phishing for identification in order to fulfill a potential refund.
The tactics used by the scammers are quite aggressive, persistent and meant to cause panic in the victims, say police. Consumers and businesses may receive a notification by phone or email that they owe “back taxes” as the result of an audit. Payment of the outstanding “taxes” must be made immediately to avoid a fine or arrest.
Nation Valley News has noticed the fraud often involves an initial automated message with a script warning the recipient to get an “attorney” — a term generally not used to describe lawyers in Canada (except, perhaps, for the Attorney General). The fraudsters themselves seem to have East Indian accents and hang up when asked to conduct the conversation in French. A CTV W5 investigation recently turned up an illicit call centre in Mumbai, India, after police in that country busted another, similar operation, as recounted by The Toronto Star.
If you receive such a call, police advise:
• Do not take immediate action.
• Verify what you are being told by contacting the actual CRA at the telephone numbers listed on the agency’s web page: www.cra-arc.gc.ca.
• Ask yourself why the CRA would be asking for personal information over the phone or e-mail that they likely already have on file for you as a taxpayer.
See the CRA’s advice and information about this fraudulent activity at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html. For more information on other frauds, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit www.antifraudcentre.ca.
If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact your local police service. Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or submit a tip online at www.khcs.ca where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000.
Video above: The CRA scammers just keep going and going. Nation Valley News happened to record their initial, ominous call with included warning to contact the “CRA” at a certain number. The robotic pitch amusingly includes reference to getting an “attorney.” So we returned the call. The clip captures the outcome.