British Columbia

Bitcoin demand among latest phone scams by phony tax agents, police warn

Victoria police say they're seeing an uptick in hoax phone calls in which a scammer, pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, accuses their target of tax fraud and demands they pay a fine — sometimes in bitcoin.

Fraudsters posing as CRA may demand cryptocurrency, use phone-number spoofing, Victoria cops say

No matter what the person on the other end of the phone tells you, the Canada Revenue Agency does not accept bitcoin, Victoria police say. (Kin Cheung/Associated Press)

As tax time approaches, so does scam time.

Victoria police say they are already seeing an uptick in hoax phone calls in which a scammer, pretending to be an agent of the Canada Revenue Agency, accuses a potential victim of tax fraud.

They then demand that the victim immediately pay a fine or face a greater penalty later.

On some occasions, they're asking for payment in bitcoin — a certain way to tell that the call is fake, police say, as the CRA does not accept this form of payment.

The Victoria Police Department says that $25,000 has been lost to the scam this month alone, according to reports it has received.

It also says fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated.

"Investigators are also seeing more spoofing of phone numbers," police said in a statement.

"In one investigation, the victim divulged his accountant's information then moments later got a call from his 'accountant,' which really was one of the fraudsters."

​Police say the scammers often target seniors and are advising the public to look out on behalf of their elderly relatives.

If you have concerns about a call from someone claiming to be from the CRA, you can call the CRA yourself at 1-800-959-8281.

The 2018 tax return deadline for Canadians is April 30.