Scam targets Winnipeg taxpayers, say police

Winnipeg police are warning residents to be wary of a telephone tax scam this tax season.

Winnipeg Police receiving complaints about phone scams this tax season

Winnipeg Police is warning residents of a telephone scam where imposter CRA agents pressure victims to hand over money or personal information. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Winnipeg police are warning residents to be on alert for a telephone scam targeting taxpayers. Imposters claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are calling Winnipeggers and pressuring them to hand over money in the form of cash or gift cards, say police.

Gladys Drewniak, 73, was targeted twice by the scam. The most recent call was last week. When she picked up the phone, she heard an automated message asking her to call back a 613 area code number right away.

"The announcement said they were calling from Revenue Canada, that my income tax had been audited and that I owed them money," said Drewniak. The message said if she didn't return the call, Drewniak would have to pay a large penalty.

While the message sounded authentic to Drewniak it also set off red flags, she said. She called Revenue Canada to confirm her taxes were in order, instead of calling back the number.

"They answered very quickly. They just checked my records," said Drewniak. The CRA agent referred Drewniak to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre tip line to report the scam.

According to the CRA these types of scams are widespread and common in Canada. Along with money, fraudsters may ask victims to hand over personal information, like a passport number or SIN. The CRA has several examples of real scams, including those over text message, telephone and email

If residents receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the CRA asking for money, the CRA recommends calling the agency back to confirm or visiting your My Account online.

The CRA says its agents do not use threatening or coercive language when speaking with the public. The agency never asks people to email personal information

Manitobans can report phone scams by contacting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

If money or personal information has already been provided to a potential fraudster, the CRA recommends victims contact local police.

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