By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
Residents of Metro Vancouver and adjoining areas, including SFU students, are being warned by police forces about Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scams as people in different cities are being targeted. Earlier this month, an individual from Vancouver got duped into paying $2,000, and there have been similar reports from Surrey and neighboring areas.
An individual from Surrey who fell victim to the scam lost $18,000. The individual is described to have received a telephone call from a male and female scammer, telling the victim that there was an arrest warrant against them, which could be settled only if the victim paid. The victim reportedly, frightened by the threat of arrest, bought Bitcoins and sent them to the con artists.
Earlier in June, Vancouverite Kelly Loden was defrauded out of $2,000. Loden was told he was being audited.
“They had financial information against me that made me believe them,” said Loden. “They knew what years I’d filed taxes personally, versus with an accountant.”
The con artists also posed as officers from the Vancouver Police Department and gave him a name, rank, and badge number, informing him that a warrant had been issued in his name.
“My self-guilt of just owing tax money to CRA let me be led astray and scammed. I’d already been ignoring it for two years.”
While Loden accepted that his own guilt of owing taxes made him more vulnerable to the scam, RCMP authorities said that lack of awareness about CRA protocols and tax collection procedures make people easily targetable.
The International Students Services of SFU provides monthly reminders to SFU students to beware of similar scams. Some members of the student community told The Peak that they have received multiple calls of similar nature, over the last few months.
Mehvish Saleem, an SFU student studying for a master’s degree in Big Data, joined SFU as an international student only a few short months ago. Saleem told The Peak that “scared by the sudden and threatening nature of the call, and unaware of tax collection procedures in Canada, I almost fell prey to the fraud.” It was because her call connection was lost suddenly, and once she called back she heard the exact same message being played to her again from the start, that she realized it was a scam.
“People can be vulnerable to this type of scam when they are unsure of how taxes are collected in Canada,” said corporal Elenore Sturko of Surrey RCMP. “We want to share important information about tax collection and to assure the public that they will not be threatened as part of the tax collection process.”
A step-by-step guide to the different ways the scammers try to deceive people, have been included in the Government of Canada website, under the tab of Canada Revenue Agency’s Security option. Police forces and RCMP have informed the public that CRA will not contact them via phone for any reason or send officers to arrest them at their doors.
With files from CBC News.