News / Calgary

Calgary woman defrauded $20,000 in CRA scam

The offender had the woman purchase Apple iTunes cards as a way to pay off her debt

metro file photo

Calgary police are warning the public of increasingly aggressive tactics being using in what is known as the “CRA Scam.”

Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, a woman received a call on her cell phone from a man claiming to be with the Canadian Revenue Agency. The man knew the woman’s name and said he was calling because she owed money for income taxes to the CRA. He said there was a warrant out for her arrest and liens had been places on her car, home and investments.

The man instructed her to go to a nearby grocery store to purchase an Apple iTunes gift cards as a way of paying her debt. He remained on the phone as she purchased the gift cards and provided him with the activation codes. He then instructed the victim to go to another grocery store and repeat the process.

The offender told the victim he was at the courthouse attempting to have the arrest warrant removed. He then noted that the warrant had been re-issued and once again told the victim that more money was required to have the arrest warrant removed.

The victim proceeded to attend her bank and withdrew funds, before contacting a family member to request additional money. The family member contacted police, who were able to locate the victim and stop the fraud.

The victim was defrauded of nearly $20,000 before police were able to intervene.

Merchants and store cashiers are encouraged to be aware of customers asking to purchase large amounts of iTunes or other gift cards and to initiate conversations around potential scams.

Police encourage anyone who believes they may have lost money to one of these scams to call the Calgary Police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

TIPS FROM CPS:

•       Beware of Phishing emails or phone calls posing as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information, or links within an email re-directing to a fraudulent website that appears to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA does not email Canadians and request personal information.

•       The CRA will not ask for payment via prepaid credit cards, gift cards or wire transfer. The CRA will not originate phone calls demanding money or threatening arrest.

•       Look up published numbers for the CRA in the phone book and confirm the legitimacy of the caller’s story. Do not call numbers provided to you by the person who called you.

•       Do not feel pressure to respond to a request until you have a chance to verify the story.

•       Never transfer money, or give out credit card or other financial information, until you can verify the person’s identity and the story, and determine whether it is legitimate.

•       Don’t believe what you see. Business logos, websites and email addresses can easily be duplicated to look legitimate.

•       Watch for poor grammar and spelling.

•       Hover your mouse over links to check their true destination. If the URL doesn’t match the link, or seems suspicious, don’t click on it.  

•       Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments from unknown senders.

•       Update your computer’s anti-virus software.

•       Never provide personal information such as SIN, bank account information or credit card numbers.

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