Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Greater Toronto Area Financial Crime Unit would like to warn the public of an ongoing scam by imposters claiming to be Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) employees [Formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)].
The following is a realistic portrayal of a CRA/IRCC scam that has been seen by RCMP investigators. This approach is one of many used by fraudsters. Please note that the calls vary with some fraudsters using more threats than others. Furthermore, in certain cases some of the fraudsters speak in perfect English, whereas on other occasions, it is next to impossible to understand what they are saying due to a foreign accent.
Imagine this, you have been in Canada for a number of years and your father immigrated to Canada within the last year. Your father fled a war torn country and came to Canada for a better and a safer way of life. Your father’s name is “Asher” and he works full time to support himself and his wife. Asher lives in St. Thomas, Ontario. Just as he is about to leave his apartment to go to work, his phone rings, and the call display shows it as coming from the Canadian Revenue Agency (spoofed number).
Eric Foster (CRA imposter): Hello this is the Canada Revenue Agency calling, you need to deal with a problem. You owe the government money, is this Asher?
Asher: I can’t understand what you are saying? Who are you?
Eric Foster (CRA imposter): This is Eric Foster (an Anglophone surname, which was confusing as contrasted by a strong south Asian accent) of the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Asher: Excuse me, I don’t understand.
Eric Foster (CRA imposter): Please confirm your full name and address, as well those who live with you?
Asher: Pardon me, who do I live with? Where do I live?
Eric Foster (CRA imposter): That is what I said.
Asher: I live with my wife, at 13 Drumbo Avenue, apartment number 17, St Thomas, Ontario.
Eric Foster (CRA imposter): You have a tax bill of $13,000.00 which must be paid immediately.
Asher: I’ve been in Canada for just over 9 months, are you sure about this?
Eric Foster (CRA imposter): You have just come to this country???? Let me transfer your call.
Asher: Pardon me?
IRCC imposter: My name is Jonathan Knight (an Anglophone surname, which was confusing…again, as contrasted by a very strong accent) Please provide your passport number?
Asher: Who is this?
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): I’m with the Immigration Office, what is your passport number?
Asher: Oh ok, my passport number is CDN2016
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): What do you do for a living?
Asher: I work full time at my friend’s bakery.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): Who do you live with?
Asher: Just my wife, Sophie.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): Yes, that is correct. I’m looking at your file and you have overdue fees which must be paid. You owe the Canadian Government $13,000.00 in immigration fees.
Asher: That is a lot of money, there must be a mistake.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): You were sent a written notification over a month ago, and you chose not to respond. That was very careless of you, now the police have a warrant for your arrest, do you want to go to jail? After your arrest, both you and your wife will be deported.
Asher: No, this can’t be.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): Unless you want to be deported, you need to listen very closely to what I am going to tell you. Firstly, you are to tell no one.
Asher: Can I call my son? He is Canadian, he will be happy to help me.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): NO, and I repeat NO, you are not to tell anyone. You do not understand the immigration laws of Canada, if you do not pay these fees today, you and your wife will face deportation.
Asher: I am sorry, I am new to this process, and I am very confused.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): Just listen to what I have to say and you will be ok.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): What is your cell number?
Asher: 519 555 5555.
Jonathan Knight (IRCC imposter): I will call you on that number now, you are not to hang up, do you understand?
Asher was held hostage to his cell phone for the next 8 hours, fearing that if he did not do exactly as “Mr. Knight” dictated, both he and his wife would be deported. Asher feared that his worst nightmare would come to fruition; being deported to his homeland, a place that he now feared. Initially, the fraudster told Asher to send money, in installments, via Western Union and MoneyGram. Some outlets accepted his transfers, whereas some outlets told Asher that it was a fraud. When Asher told “Mr. Knight” that he was told that it was a fraud, Asher was scolded and was reminded that he and his wife were still facing deportation if the funds were not received today. “Mr. Knight”, then directed Asher to send the remaining balance via a combination of a direct bank to bank transfer, along with a number of prepaid credit cards (with these cards, fraudsters direct victims to give them the account information on the cards, giving them access and the money is gone). By sundown, Asher lost everything that he and his wife had saved. Sadder yet, Asher was unaware that this was a fraud until his wife asked him, what had happened to their savings. Unfortunately, Asher is one of many Canadians who have been coerced into sending money to the scammers.
NOTE: The names Eric Foster and Jonathan Knight are two of many names that have been used by the imposters in actual calls to victims of this fraud. Although the phone number displayed was legitimate it was “spoofed” meaning it was made to impersonate another person or in this case CRA’s caller ID.
This fraud extorts money from their victims through a number of different threats. These types of frauds are being perpetuated coast to coast, and have impacted both male and female victims from many different age groups and cultural backgrounds.
What makes this worse is that many victims never report these incidents to the police. If you, a friend or family member has either received a call from a fraudster, or has lost money through this type of call, please report it. Lastly, if you are reading this, please do your part in sharing this message with your friends and family and help us to create more awareness of this type of fraud.
When you receive a suspect phone call from someone purporting to be the CRA, IRCC, RCMP or other government agency please take the following steps:
1) If you have call display on your phone, note the number where the call came from.
2) Hang Up.
3) Look up the “real” number for the agency in question.
4) Call the agency to confirm or refute your situation.
5) Report the fraudulent call.
If you or a family member has fallen victim to this fraud, please report to your local police service, as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). You have two ways to make a report to the CAFC; either by phone at 1-888-495-8501 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time) or through their online reporting tool at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
Specific to this fraud, please visit the CRA website for more information on fraud prevention; there you will find samples of CRA scam voicemails and phone calls: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html