A Victoria man is reeling after CRA scammers took him for over $11,000, prompting investigators to warn the public that the CRA scam is alive and well in our communities. Despite the heavy loss, it could have been worse, as quick-thinking bank staff recognized a fraud was occurring when the scammers pressed their victim for even more.
Yesterday evening, the victim was contacted by CRA scammers – fraudsters who claim to be representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency. These thieves claim that the potential victim owes taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency. They often claim a judgement has been rendered against the potential victim, a warrant issued and officers making their way to the victim’s home to take him or her into custody.
In this instance, the fraudsters directed the victim to a Bitcoin ATM machine located at a business in the 100-block of Gorge Road East and instructed him to make a series of transfers. The scammers claimed the transfers would cover his arrears amount and a “deposit” amount to ensure the victim appeared in court. The man lost over $11,000 in this first fraud.
These scammers were working as a team, and the victim was called back by a different fraudster who claimed to be a VicPD officer. This fraudster directed the victim to attend a bank branch for additional funds and demanded to remain on the phone with the victim as he made the transaction. Luckily, the teller at the bank branch recognized that a fraud was taking place and intervened. When confronted by the teller, the scammer hung up.
Despite reporting the fraud to us, and the Bitcoin agency, it is unlikely the victim will recoup any funds.
There are several key elements that can lead the sense of legitimacy of these frauds. These include:
- Caller ID indicates “Canada Revenue Agency,” “Victoria Police Department,” or “911”
- The fraudsters often know or appear to know the potential victim’s name address and phone number
- The calls often last several hours, or happen as a series of calls
In addition these scammers use several “social engineering” techniques to deepen the sense of urgency of the call and to try to create compliance on the parts of victims. They include:
- Extremely aggressive language and actions
- Catastrophic threats that victims will lose their homes, businesses, reputations and place themselves and their family members at risk of imprisonment
- Exhaustingly long phone calls, or repeated calls with little to no interval in between
- Refusal to allow the victims to get off the phone
The Canada Revenue Agency rarely, if ever, telephones. Most often, Canada Revenue Agency contact is initiated through letters. The Canada Revenue Agency also does not take payment by Bitcoin. Previous iterations of the scam have seen victims pay in iTunes cards, gift cards and cash-backed credit cards.
If you think you have been contacted by a Canada Revenue Agency scammer hang up the phone. The longer they have potential victims on the phone, the more likely that person is to lose money. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, call them back by calling one of the numbers located on this page: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/contact-information/telephone-numbers.html. When in doubt, hang up and talk to a loved one, friend or call our non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654 and run the scenario by us.
For more information on Canada Revenue Agency scams, please visit vicpd.ca/fraud.