Scammers posing as employees of the Canada Revenue Agency have ramped up their tactics this month, with the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) receiving more than 20 complaints on Tuesday alone.
Const. Paul Walker said, in one case, a woman was defrauded of $5,000.
The APD first alerted the public of the scam in December, when 31 complaints were received for the month.
At that time, people were receiving either an official-looking email or a phone call claiming they owed money to the CRA.
The residents were told they had anywhere from 45 minutes to 24 hours to make their payments and, if they didn’t comply, police would be dispatched to their home to arrest them.
They were told to wire the money to a location provided to them either in Ontario or the eastern United States.
Three of the people who reported the matter in December lost sums of $200 to $2,000.
Walker said now that it is income tax season, the scam seems to be happening more often.
Earlier this month, the CRA issued a national press release warning taxpayers to beware of phone calls or emails that claim to be from the CRA.
Some of the calls were asking people for information such as credit card, bank account and passport numbers.
“Some of these scams ask for this personal information directly, and others refer the taxpayer to a website resembling the CRA’s, where the person is asked to verify their identity by entering personal information,” the CRA stated.
The agency said it never asks for this type of information and if a CRA employee does contact someone by phone, there are established steps in place to ensure personal information is protected.
The fraudulent emails often use CRA logos or Internet links that appear official, and they contain obvious grammar and spelling mistakes.
Some claim the person owes money, while others state the person is eligible to receive a refund but must first provide some personal information.
The CRA advises recipients to avoid replying to these emails or clicking on any of the links.
Anyone who wants to verify the authenticity of a CRA phone number can contact 1-800-959-8282 or see the list of authorized numbers online at cra-arc.gc.ca/cntct/phn-eng.html.
To report a fraudulent call or email, contact the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.