Thousands of Canadians have fallen victim to scammers who pretend that they are from the CRA. Unsuspecting victims are usually contacted with threatening texts, emails, or calls telling them that a recent audit has uncovered that they owe a substantial amount to the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA has been used as a front by fraudsters in the past as well.
One victim recalled that a fraudster identified himself as officer Craig Williams from the CRA and called her about discrepancies with her maternity leave and employment insurance. This left the victim confused because she knew her paperwork have been filed months prior and that the caller?s phone number showed that it was a toll-free number from Vietnam. Luckily, she googled the number and knew it was not from the CRA so she called the number and asked for which CRA department the caller is from. The fraudster cut the call.
The incident above could easily be dismissed as just another attempt to scam but one disturbing fact was that the caller knew that the victim is a new mom who?s receiving employment insurance. That is something that is rather specific.
The victim then proceeded to check her social media settings and double checked possible leaks of her financial details but found none.
Barring details of the story above, many of which are a red flag about the authenticity of the caller, it should be noted that the CRA has been used in many similar scams in the past (and even now).
Extortion schemes are the most common ones, making targeted victims pay for supposed mistakes in their returns. The victims are threatened via email, text, and/or calls and informed that they will be arrested and/or reported if they do not pay via prepaid credit card, iTunes cards, e-transfer, or Bitcoin ATMs. Some victims have been targeted twice by the same scammers.
Alarming Criminal Activity
Identity theft and identity fraud have been identified by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre located in North Bay, Ontario. Their office tracks identity theft, mass-marketing fraud, and identity fraud. They recorded a loss of about $100 million from 30,000 victims of mass marketing scams last year and logged 26,500 individual cases of identity fraud where criminals used another person?s identity to scam service providers, stores, and banks out of $14 million. As for identity theft, they?ve received more than 10,000 complaints last year.
Identity Theft On The Rise
One targeted victim for identity theft remembered a call from someone claiming to be from Visa verifying recent transactions made with his car. He discovered that a deposit of $4,000 has been made in his account. Because he works in finance and knew how bad people may use his details, he changed his social security number and thought that was it. A few months down the road, he received a call from a detective following the arrest of a man who?ve been using his identity.
We?ve shared with you some alarming cases of identity fraud and identity theft. Luckily for the people involved above, their quick thinking helped minimize the harm done to them by fraudsters.