Police Warn of Increased Activity in CRA Telephone Scam

3 September 2015

Since February, more than 600 Calgary residents have fallen victim to what has come to be known as the “CRA Scam,” in which scammers claiming to be representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency declare that victims owe a substantial amount of money in back taxes, or that their status in Canada is not legitimate. Using fear as their weapon, callers coerce their victims into sending money via transfers, prepaid credit cards or cash deposits in order to avoid prison time or deportation.

While the scammers have been at it for several months now, they have been more active in recent months than ever before. During the first five months since the scam was first detected, there were 142 total reported cases. In just the last two months, that number is up to more than 600 total cases. Calgary police warn residents to look out for increasingly aggressive tactics that they say have helped the fraudsters steal more than $50,000 in the last week and a half alone.

In the latest set of fraudulent calls, victims who challenge the offender have been met with threats of arrest, deportation, violence, sexual abuse and in some incidents, seizure of their children, according to a news release from police. In some cases, the scammers have even sent a taxi to the victim’s home to take them to a money transfer location. The callers have also been reported to make multiple phone calls to a single victim, using different voices to pose as representatives of the CRA, Immigration Canada, the police and other authority figures. While early reports suggested the scam only targeted Canadians who were new to the country, police now say the more aggressive calls are going out to a wide variety of victims.

“It’s frankly heartbreaking to see innocent, good people needlessly traumatized by these scammers,” says Victoria Police Department Financial Crimes Detective Sergeant Derek Tolmie. “It’s frustrating and needless. The best thing people can do is learn to recognize these scams and to talk to their loved ones about them.”

In light of the recent uptick in CRA scams, the Canada Revenue Agency has set up a webpage to help Canadians arm themselves against scammers. The site includes a recording of a typical scam telephone call so that potential victims will know what to look for and can identify a scammer right away.

The CRA also reminds residents that it will never:

  • Ask for personal information of any kind by email or text message
  • Request payments by prepaid credit cards
  • Give taxpayer information to another person, unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer
  • Leave personal information on an answering machine.

If you receive a call where someone claiming to be a CRA representative takes any of those actions, or gives you any other reason to believe he or she may be targeting you for a scam, contact your local police department to report the fraudulent call.

Police encourage anyone who believes they may have lost money to one of these scams to call the Calgary Police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Anyone who may have other information about these scams is asked to contact the non-emergency number or contact Crime Stoppers.

If your information is ever exposed in a scam or even a data breach, Identity Guard’s credit monitoring service can monitor and alert you to certain types of activity that may indicate fraud. For more information about how you can protect yourself against damaging credit fraud, contact us today.