As tax season approaches, the Calgary Police Service is once again warning Calgarians of an aggressive scam where fraudsters purport to be with either the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Immigration Canada.
In 2015, more than $386,875 was fraudulently obtained from 89 victims in Calgary. In addition to those who lost money, police have received more than 5,000 complaints in the last year of people being contacted in relation to this scam.
The CPS has issued six public warnings over the past year detailing the various tactics used by offenders:
- Jan. 14, 2014 – Police warn about tax-related scam
- May 21, 2015 – Mass Marketing Scams Alert
- June 30, 2015 – Revenue Canada scams continue to affect Calgarians
- Sept. 3, 2015 – Scam Warning
- Nov. 5, 2015 – Police warn public of aggressive scam
- Dec. 18, 2015 – Immigration Scam Warning
“We can’t fight this trend alone. We need every Calgarian to spread the word to their friends and family. Especially to our vulnerable family members such as those who are elderly, who may have immigrated to Canada, or who may have a language barrier,” says Staff Sergeant Kristie Verheul. “The best offence in this case, is a good defense.”
The CPS Economic Crimes Unit is working with partner agencies, such as the CRA, Immigration Canada, the RCMP, the U.S. Secret Service and money transfer companies to investigate these offences. Police have received increasing reports of citizens being contacted by fraudsters who have intimate details about their family or immigration status. It is not yet known where the offenders may be obtaining this information, or if they are using clever tactics to get citizens to unknowingly reveal personal details throughout the phone conversation.
What you need to know to protect yourself
- Do not feel pressure to respond to a request until you have a chance to verify the story.
- Never transfer money, or give out credit card or other financial information, until you can verify the person’s identity and the story, and determine whether it is legitimate.
- The CRA will not ask for payment via prepaid credit cards or wire transfer.
- Look up published numbers for the CRA in the phone book and confirm the legitimacy of the caller’s story. Do not call numbers provided to you by the person who called you.
- Don’t believe what you see. Business logos, websites and email addresses can easily be duplicated to look legitimate.
- Watch for poor grammar and spelling.
- Contact the business directly to legitimize the communication before you take any action. Search online to get contact information from an official source.
- Hover your mouse over links to check their true destination. If the URL doesn’t match the link, or seems suspicious, don’t click on it.
- Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments from unknown senders.
- Update your computer’s anti-virus software.
- Ignore calls for immediate action or messages that create a sense of urgency.
- Beware of Phishing emails posing as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information, or links within an email re-directing to a fraudulent website that appears to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA does not email Canadians and request personal information.
- Never provide personal information such as SIN, bank account information or credit card numbers.
How to report
If you’ve lost money as a result of this scam, call police at the non-emergency line 403-266-1234.
Anyone who may have other information about these scams, including unsuccessful attempts to obtain money, is asked to contact either:
- Online at calgarypolice.ca through the ‘Report a Crime’ link
- Non-emergency number 403-266-1234
- Crime Stoppers anonymously using any of the following methods: TALK: 1-800-222-8477, TYPE: www.calgarycrimestoppers.org, TEXT: tttTIPS to 274637.