The Niagara Regional Police Service is continuing to remind residents to be cautious of the on-going Canada Revenue Agency scam, noting some suspects are now demanding payment in Bitcoin, a “cryptocurrency” or digital asset.

 

Police say that residents have been receiving phone calls from criminals attempting to extort money from their victims by telephone, mail, text message or email.  It is a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number. Fraudsters impersonate the real CRA by telephone or by email.

Fraudsters are either phishing for your identification or asking that outstanding taxes be paid by a money service business, Bitcoin or by pre-paid debit/credit cards. They may insist that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment.

Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA, at times identifying themselves as police investigators for the CRA.  Other communications urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website where the taxpayer is then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information. These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications nor click on any of the links provided.

To avoid becoming a victim, police advise you to first check with another family member or trusted friend to verify the information BEFORE sending money or providing credit card information by phone, e-mail or online.

- Urgency — The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.

- Fear — The scammer plays on the victim’s emotions by generating a sense of fear. For instance they may say, “I am scared and I need help from you.”

- Secrecy — The scammer pleads with the victim not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, “Please don’t tell Dad or Mom, they would be so mad.”

- Request for Money Transfer or payment through gift cards.  Victims are usually requested to purchase quantities of gift cards (iTunes or credit cards)or Bitcoin, asked to send a money transfer company such as Money Gram, Western Union or even through your own banking institution.

If you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of the Emergency Scam or someone posing as a Canada Revenue Agency employee, hang up and contact your local police service. You can also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm) or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm

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