Police and tax officials are warning about a letter and e-mail fraud scheme that attempts to pry confidential banking information and passport numbers from Canadians.
The scam is designed to prey on taxpayers worried about their records. It comes in the form of an official-looking letter or e-mail claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency and requiring taxpayers to complete a T2 form and bring CRA's records up to date.
Winnipegger Orlando Marcelino got what he thought was an e-mail from the Canada Revenue Agency. "When you see CRA you tremble — because it’s government," he chuckled. But he checked further and found the e-mail was from the United Kingdom.
"I knew it was a scam," he said.
The suspicious correspondence has been turning up in letter boxes and computer inboxes across the country.
"They’re asking people for their personal information, their banking information," said CRA spokeswoman Catherine Joliceur. She said the CRA does have a T2 form, but it looks nothing like the fake form that is arriving in people’s mailboxes.
Authorities said they don’t know how many taxpayers have been duped in the scam.
But the CRA — which does not send e-mails to taxpayers — has issued a public warning: "This letter is not from the CRA and Canadians should not provide their personal information to the sender," says a tax alert on the Canada Revenue Agency website.
"The letter claims that there is 'insufficient information' for the individual's tax return and that in order to receive any 'claims,' they will have to update their records. The letter attaches a form specifically requesting the individual's personal information in writing, via fax or e-mail, including information on bank accounts and passports."
In some instances the fraudulent demand for personal information has arrived via postal delivery. The letter asks taxpayers to complete the phoney T2 form and either fax it or send it to an address with a post office box number. Police found mail at that address was being forwarded overseas.
The RCMP said that even with the blurry graphics, people tend to be vulnerable to the scam because of their willingness to believe the government owes them money.