Unsuspecting Oakville residents are being targeted by fraudsters claiming to work for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
According to Det. Mark Underwood of the Halton Regional Police Fraud Unit, this type of fraud is on the increase.
Someone claiming to work for the CRA calls and demands money because, as the story goes, you are behind in your federal income tax. The fraudsters count on fear tactics, often threatening arrest or asset seizure.
Researchers from the Stanford Center on Longevity report that older adults may be more susceptible to scams evoking strong emotions. These fraudsters may intend to target the elderly, but Canadians of all ages have fallen victim.
There are many different types of request for money.
Request can be varied including requests that you wire money abroad or sometimes it’s as simple as asking you to pay your back taxes by using iTunes gift cards or a prepaid credit card.
This type of fraud has been around for years. In the fall of 2016 the RCMP reported police in Asia arrested 70 people at call centers employing 700 people. After the arrests, the volume of fraudulent CRA scams decreased. Until now.
Underwood said that the CRA scams are back and there have been four or five reported incidences in the last couple of weeks, where Oakville residents have been targeted.
Underwood advises you hang up if anybody calls you claiming they are from Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA does not make those types of calls. If the CRA wants to communicate, they normally do it via regular mail.
Despite the good intentions of our police there is no remedy once a victim’s funds have been sent overseas.
Our police are proactive and conduct seminars in the community and at police facilities. The focus is on prevention through public awareness. Arrests, such as those the RCMP reported, won’t stop fraud. Education is key.
Unfortunately, the CRA fraud scam is a profitable business and therefore we can anticipate it will continue.
Statistics from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre say 1,900 Canadians have been victimized to the extent of $5.7 million.
According to the RCMP, analysis of those figures suggest that they represent just 5 per cent of actual losses.
I also suggest you be equally discerning to emails received that ask for money or personal sensitive information such as your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, SIN number, or any answers to questions that you might have used to identify yourself with a legitimate business.
CRA scams and other types of fraud pose a real threat to Oakville residences.
All of us should constantly be aware of the threat, and to guard ourselves against financial losses.