The CRA tax scam appears to have stopped - at least for now.

Raid on call centre in India puts brakes on CRA tax scam

Experts are wondering if the scheme is permanently stopped, or if it will resume again when the heat dies down.

A raid on a call centre near Mumbai, India appears to have put a halt—at least temporarily—to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam that has bilked hundreds of Canadians out of millions of dollars.

On October 5 police in India arrested 70 people at the call centre, and brought more people in for questioning, in connection with complaints about a similar scam in the United States where people were phoned and told they owed money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the American equivalent of the CRA.

“Both scams were pretty much identical,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications adviser for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland BC. Callers were informed of tax money supposedly owed, and threatened with arrest, fines, or deportation unless they paid the outstanding amount, usually by a prepaid Visa card or wire transfer.

A variation of the scam informed people that they were owed a refund, with the caller asking for personal information which could later be used for identity theft.

“I thought it was great for the IRS,” says Kelly, of hearing about the raid in India. “And I wondered if it would have an impact on the CRA scam.”

Numbers from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre show that it did. During the week of October 3 to 9, the centre received 358 complaints about the scam. In the week following the bust in India, the number of complaints dropped to 25.

“On first inspection it looks like having a dramatic impact, but I don’t know if this will lead to a long term decrease in the calls,” says Kelly. “Does one call centre affect everybody here, or have other call centres decided to lie low for a while? It’s difficult to say how widespread it is.”

The CRA scam took the top spot in last year’s BBB National Top 10 Scams list, and Kelly says they will be tracking the number of complaints about it over the next couple of months.

The BBB reminds people that the CRA does not send out robocalls, does not demand wire transfers or prepaid credit cards, and will never ask for personal information over the phone or online.

Although many people were suspicious enough not to fall for the scam, the calls were persistent and often threatening. Kelly urges anyone who gets such a call, or who has been scammed, to record their experience at the BBB’s Scam Tracker site (bbb.org/scamtracker). “You don’t have to have lost money; just record your experience.”

It is estimated that only five per cent of those who have been scammed report the matter, either to the BBB, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, or the police, often because the victim is too embarrassed to say anything. “It’s one of our biggest problems,” says Kelly.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The best and brightest of us get scammed. But the more aware people are of the scams around them, the less likely they are to fall for them.”

 

Just Posted

Victoria-Saanich amalgamation discussions won’t be open to the public

The upcoming citizens’ assembly meetings will be held in camera

Red-tailed hawk’s own bill is killing him

‘Most birds with this syndrome will starve to death without treatment’

Outdoor cats one of the biggest causes of wildlife injuries, says Wild ARC

Spring a vulnerable time for fledlings, small mammals

Royals face Blazers to kickoff WHL playoffs

Series opens Friday, March 22 at Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre

Search and rescue volunteers work to keep waterways safe

Over 1,000 volunteers help keep mariners safe; headquarters based in Sooke

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Dead sea lion discovered on Hornby Island shoreline

Reports indicate animal was shot in the head

Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott

Island SPCA overwhelmed by 45 cats taken from Comox Valley property

Many of the cats will be transferred to branches in Nanaimo and Victoria

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Paramedic staff shortage at critical level: B.C. union

A number of units were out of service due to lack of staffing in Lower Mainland, union says

B.C. dairy farmers say federal budget not enough to cut losses from USMCA

Concerns raised over vague details, funding access and impacts on growth

Most Read