Elli had never heard about the fake Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam until her phone rang last Friday, Nov. 20.
The man on the line said he was with the CRA’s “investigation department.”
He asked for her name, then told the 75-year-old Langley grandmother she owed $1,840 in back taxes and would be arrested later that day if she didn’t come up with the cash, quickly.
“If you don’t pay, the police will be at your house in one hour,” the caller said.
The man told Elli it would cost her more to fight the assessment than to pay it.
“If you want to hire a lawyer, it will be very expensive,” he said.
He told Elli she could settle the debt and avoid arrest by buying a prepaid gift card and giving the code to him.
He even told her to use her cellphone to stay on the line with him while she went to a nearby Langley City supermarket to buy the card.
“Something here is not right,” Elli thought.
“When someone is being that pushy, I’m suspicious.”
The caller was aggressive and threatening, and so was another man who claimed to be his supervisor.
Then one of them demanded her social insurance number.
“If you have all my papers in front of you, you would have my social insurance number,” Elli said.
“I wish you good day,” she said, and hung up the phone.
She reported the incident to police.
Langley RCMP told The Times there has been more than one incident of attempted rip-offs by callers claiming to be collectors for the Canada Revenue Agency in recent weeks.
The RCMP points out their officers don’t ever act as collection agents for the CRA, and the CRA states their staff never attempt to negotiate settlements using prepaid gift cards.
The con men like the cards because once they have the code on the back, they can transfer the money anywhere.
This summer, the CRA issued a warning about an increase in telephone scams where callers contact Canadians claiming to be from the CRA and use “aggressive and forceful language to scare them into paying fictitious debt.”
If you get such a call, the tax agency says to hang up and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501 as well as local police (the Langley RCMP non-emergency number is 604-532-3200).
When the CRA does call a taxpayer, the authenticity can be checked by phoning 1-800-959-8281.
Elli (who asked that her last name be withheld) said she was relieved to end her encounter with the con man without damaging her bank account.
She hopes telling her story will help prevent other people from falling victim.