PUBLIC ALERT – Attempted “Canada Revenue Agency” scam leaves woman in tears

Date:   Aug 21, 2015

Victoria, BC – VicPD Fraud detectives, Patrol officers, 911 Communications Centre Operators and Crime Prevention staff all are urging the public to be vigilant after a sharp increase in the number of reports of the “Canada Revenue Agency” scam over the last few days.

Calls have flooded the VicPD 911 Communications Centre and several citizens have attended our Caledonia Headquarters, traumatized, and in some cases – in an attempt to turn themselves in for what they believed to be non-payment of their taxes.

The scam is typified by a telephone call by an angry caller claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency. These callers are particularly aggressive and threaten their unsuspecting victims with arrest and fines. Often, the callers will claim a warrant has been issued for the intended victim’s arrest. That claim has led several, including some of Victoria and Esquimalt’s vulnerable elderly residents, down to our headquarters for “arrest”.

“A reputable government agency will never threaten you with arrest for unpaid taxes over the phone,” VicPD Financial Crimes Detective Sergeant Derek Tolmie. “If someone calls you claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, you can call them at 1-800-959-8281 to verify.”

Another hallmark of these scam attempts is that they often attempt to get their victims to make payment with a credit card over the phone, through a money gram, PayPal or other, similar means.

The Canada Revenue Agency has set up a webpage to help Canadians arm themselves against scammers. This page is available here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html. The Agency has also posted a recording of a typical scam telephone call. The aggression in the call is striking.

One Victoria resident, reeling from a phone call with the fraudsters, attended VicPD HQ to face what she believed to be an impending arrest. When our front desk officer approached her, the woman was visibly upset, crying and shaking. It took several minutes for our officer to help calm her down and learn what happened.

“It’s frankly heartbreaking to see, innocent, good people needlessly traumatized by these scammers,” Det. Sgt. Tolmie said. “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.”

For more information about how to recognize these frauds and how to talk to your loved ones about them, please visit vicpd.ca/fraud. In the interim, if you want to join the fight against fraud, there’s something very simple you can do. You can learn about a common fraud – like the Canada Revenue Agency Scam – and then talk about it with someone whom you care about. By doing so, you help protect yourself and your loved one from something that is negatively impacting many in our community.