Being within the vicinity of Canadian tax season, it seems fraudsters have found a new way to try and capitalize on taxpayers. People are reporting phone calls from the Canadian Revenue Agency, who are demanding swift payment of outstanding accounts with the threat of arrest for non-compliance.
Brian Trainor, a retired Saskatoon police officer turned fraud expert, says don’t fall for it.
“The caller is a male with a thick East Indian accent and he’s representing himself as an officer with CRA,” said Trainor.
“What he’s doing is he’s coming on very threatening and aggressive, talking very fast, very loud. Basically saying, ‘You owe CRA “x” amount of money and you have two minutes to pay me. Either wire it to me or give me your credit card number or we’ll be at your door in half an hour to arrest you. We’ll be seizing your passport and your citizenship papers and we’ll be deporting you.’”
Trainor says they seem to be heavily targeting new Canadians who might be less familiar with tax and immigration laws, but they are also calling the general public as well. One example he says to look for in order to distinguish the fraudsters from the real tax man is the fact that the CRA would never conduct an investigation over the phone.
Any communication involving accounts are generally done through mail, so this is the first clue to look for. Another one is the callers threatening tone. Trainor says CRA representatives are generally more polite and professional than reports of these fraudsters have indicated them to be.
“Most investigators wouldn’t be like that off the hop. That’s not how you start an investigation. You wouldn’t do the investigation on the phone, period, you’d have them come in,” said Trainor. “As an investigator, I want to see the person’s face, I want to see the person’s reactions. I wouldn’t do anything over the phone. So that would be red flag Number 2 for me.”
The third red flag is the terms being used during the phone calls, which Trainor describes as out of context. The caller frequently asks that he be listened to very carefully as he reads the “affidavit.”
“Who uses the term affidavit? That’s just CSI talk and what a great way to set up or excuse himself that he’s reading a script. So right there he’s using terms that are scary. People kind of have an understanding from watching TV that this kind of has something to do with courts and justice. So they’re pushing buttons,” Trainor said.
He recommends that if someone receives one of these calls just to hang up immediately. Trainor ensured there are no laws against being rude and hanging up on someone, especially if you think you’re being targeted for fraud. Then call the CRA yourself and ask if someone has been trying to contact you and proceed from there.
Trainor also has one last piece of insurance against telephone fraud. “I call it the Trainor Fraud Insurance Mechanism and what it is is this: Go to the corner store or the Dollarama and by a one dollar Roy Rogers red and white whistle. Blow it in the phone as long and as hard as you can when these clowns phone,” he said.
“They’ll put you on the don’t-call list, ‘Don’t phone this person they’ll hurt your ears.’ It’s a one-dollar insurance policy, it’s easy.”