Phone scam targeting Victoria residents

Victoria police are asking the public to be vigilant following a spike in “Canada Revenue Agency” phone scams during the last few days.

  • Aug. 21, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Victoria police are asking the public to be vigilant following a spike in “Canada Revenue Agency” phone scams during the last few days that’s left some residents in tears at police headquarters.

Victims of the scam typically receive a phone call from an angry caller, claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and 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.

Lately, police in Victoria have been flooded with calls from citizens that have been traumatized by the scam, and in some cases, attempted to turn themselves in for what they believed to be non-payment of their taxes.

One woman who attended police headquarters to face arrest was visibly upset, crying and shaking. Police said it took several minutes for an officer to calm her down and learn what happened.

I am so furious. The fraudsters claiming to be with the CRA have left many of our residents scared and confused,” said Victoria Police Chief Frank Elsner on Twitter.

The CRA will not call you threatening arrest. If you or someone you know gets such a call, hang up and please call your Victoria police.”

In mid August, the CRA issued a public warning about the scam after seeing an increase in reports.

When the CRA calls, it has established procedures in place to make sure personal information is protected. The CRA said it never requests prepaid credit cards or asks for information about a passport, health card or driver’s licence. It also doesn’t share taxpayer information with another person, unless they have provided the appropriate authorization, and never leaves personal information on an answering machine or asks for personal information to be left on theirs.

Since the scam surfaced last summer, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said it’s received more than 10,000 calls from across Canada. In one case, a woman paid $13,000 for pre paid credit cards.

For more information on scams or to report deceptive telemarketing contact the centre online at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501. Those who believe they may be a victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly should contact their local police service immediately.

— Pamela Roth