Victoria police Chief Frank Elsner.

Victoria police Chief Frank Elsner.

Latest scam riles up seniors and police

VicPD detectives with the fraud unit are reaching out to a number of senior care facilities after flood of new CRA scams.

  • Aug. 27, 2015 7:00 p.m.

As seniors gathered for their morning activities with the James Bay New Horizons Society on Tuesday, much of the conversation centered around the alarming increase in calls from fraudsters with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) phone scam.

Those that attend the facility are educated regularly about various scams and the necessary precautions so they don’t become a victim. So far nobody at the society has fallen for the latest scam that appears to be targeting many seniors in the city.

“We do worry. There’s always the ones that we don’t reach and you’re never sure what’s going to happen and if they could fall victim,” said Kim Dixon, executive director with James Bay New Horizons, adding seniors are taught to have a whistle by the phone to blow if a caller becomes belligerent.

“Probably every month there’s something different going on. Again, we just tell them to be aware.”

Victoria police have been flooded with calls lately from citizens traumatized by the CRA scam that typically involves a phone call from an angry caller, claiming to represent the agency and that taxes are owed.

The caller requests immediate payment by credit card or convinces the victims to purchase a prepaid credit card and call back immediately with the information. If they don’t, the victims are often threatened with court charges, jail or deportation.

In some cases, local residents attempted to turn themselves in for what they believed to be non-payment of their taxes. One woman who went to police headquarters to face arrest was crying and shaking.

Victoria police Chief Frank Elsner would like to have a unit dedicated towards investigating seniors abuse, but the department doesn’t have the resources to do so at this time.

In 2013, Victoria police recorded 320 fraud cases and 303 the previous year. The bulk of those cases targeted seniors, and include scams such as the ‘grandchild send money I’m in trouble or hurt scam’ and the sweetheart scam.

In February 2014, two door-to-door home renovation scam artists were manipulating seniors and disabled residents in Victoria and Esquimalt. In one incident, an Esquimalt woman arrived home to find the two men tearing apart her roof. When she confronted them, the men told the woman her disabled son had authorized the work. The two men fled after damaging the woman’s roof.

Detectives with the fraud unit have since reached out to a number of senior care facilities.

n March 2014, Victoria police launched a campaign to prevent fraud against seniors and visited several retirement homes to offer tips on how to spot a scam.

“We have a very high population of seniors here, so some of the issues we deal with are a little different. With seniors, a lot of times we find they have a higher fear of crime, even though the crime rate is quite low,” said Elsner, adding the CRA scam was upsetting for him, especially after hearing about the emotionally distraught woman at police headquarters.

“It breaks my heart when I hear that. They don’t know. They believe in the system and they are just so distraught. They’ve never been in trouble their entire life before and suddenly this governing agency is now out to get them and they are terrified.”

More information about scams and fraud can be found at vicpd.ca.

— Pamlea Roth

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Father Marinaldo Batista, who served at Catholic parishes in Saanich and Sooke, died April 1 in Brazil from complications of COVID-19. (Facebook/St. Elizabeth Church)
Brazilian priest who served in Saanich and Sooke dies from COVID-19

Father Marinaldo Batista, 53, went to Brazil to visit his parents and died there April 1

The HarbourCats’ 2021 season is cancelled. (Photo courtesy of the Victoria HarbourCats)
No at-bats for Victoria HarbourCats, Nanaimo NightOwls this season due to COVID-19

No Canadian teams will play in the 2021 West Coast League season

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. (Black Press Media file photo)
TRAFFIC: Protest occupying one lane of Douglas Street southbound

Extinction Rebellion activists are marching from Vancouver to the B.C. legislative building

One person has been arrested following an assault on a man with Down syndrome along Dallas Road April 17. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man with Down syndrome attacked along Dallas Road

Suspected assailant arrested, sent to hospital for mental health assessment

Victoria police are asking for help locating high-risk missing man Derek Whittaker, last seen in Victoria April 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Police searching for Derek Whittaker, last seen in Victoria

Whittaker believed to be driving 1994 red Volkswagen Golf

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read