For most of us, we’re in the season of giving thoughtfully, but for some it’s the season of taking deceptively.
That’s what Southside resident Elly Foote learned on Dec. 17 when a caller tried to snare her in a phone scam, and not a very clever one, as she explained to Lakes District News.
When the phone rang and Foote answered, a recording said it was Revenue Canada calling and that a warrant was out for her arrest but it could be avoided if she called 647-258-9438.
She phoned the number and was told by man calling himself Jason Smith that she could pay what she owes or else criminal charges would result.
“He had a fairly strong east Indian accent,” she said. “He claimed to be phoning from Ottawa…and he had trouble pronouncing Ottawa.”
Foote said that it sounded like the man was calling from a very busy office.
She refused his requests for her name and postal code.
When she asked how much she allegedly owed he said “$286.”
“He told me to go to a government grocery store which he said was Walmart, so I could exchange [the money] for coupons or something.”
After several minutes, Foote said the man realized his target wasn’t going to fall for it, and swore at her twice before hanging up.
The Southside resident later called the RCMP, who gave her a fraud prevention number to call.
“[The line] is perpetually busy. It seems to go in waves,” she said.
Even if Foote went along with the racket, she might have been one of the luckier ones, as some victims, fearing arrest, have been defrauded of many thousands of dollars through the Canada Revenue Agency scams.
“People can be vulnerable to this type of scam when they are unsure of how taxes are collected in Canada,” said Cpl Elenore Sturko in an RCMP news release.
The CRA never uses threatening language, nor does it threaten arrest or to send police, the RCMP pointed out.
The Agency also does not accept payment through prepaid credit cards or gift cards, e-transfer or digital currencies like Bitcoin or through wire transfers.
Its accepted payment methods are via online banking, debit cards, pre-authorized debit or credit cards.
The RCMP urges the public to not take any action from the threats of suspicious callers.
Tax status can be confirmed by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 or checking My Account at canada.ca/my-cra-account.
More information on scams can be found online at canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.
To report being targeted in a scam call 1-888-495-8501.