Tax and immigration scams hit Calgarians hard in 2015

As tax season approaches, the Calgary Police Service is warning Calgarians of aggressive scams where fraudsters claim to be with either the Canada Revenue Agency or Immigration Canada.

Fraudsters posing as government officials scammed Calgarians out of more than $385K last year

Police warn that fraudsters are pretending to be government officials in order to gain personal information and credit card numbers. (Getty Images)

Tax season is high season for fraudsters, and police are warning Calgarians to be extra vigilant of suspicious emails or requests for information at this time of year.

In 2015, fraudsters obtained more than $386,875 from 89 victims in Calgary by purporting to be with either the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Immigration Canada.

Police also received more than 5,000 complaints in the last year of people being contacted in relation to this scam.

"We can't fight this trend alone," said Staff Sgt. Kristie Verheul in a news release.

"We need every Calgarian to spread the word to their friends and family. Especially to our vulnerable family members such as those who are elderly, who may have immigrated to Canada, or who may have a language barrier."

Police say fraudsters are contacting potential victims with details about their family or immigration status.

It is not yet known where the offenders may be obtaining this information, or if they are using clever tactics to get citizens to unknowingly reveal personal details through the phone conversation.

The CPS Economic Crimes Unit is working with partner agencies, such as the CRA, Immigration Canada, the RCMP, the U.S. Secret Service and money transfer companies to investigate these offences.

How to protect yourself

"The best offence in this case, is a good defence," said Staff Sgt. Verheul. Here are some things to keep in mind to avoid being scammed. 

  • Never transfer money, or give out credit card or other financial information, until you can verify the person's identity and the story, and determine whether it is legitimate
  • The CRA will not ask for payment via prepaid credit cards or wire transfer
  • ​Never provide personal information such as SIN, bank account information or credit card numbers
  • The CRA does not email Canadians to request personal information, so beware of phishing emails
  • Do not call numbers provided to you by the person who called you
  • Watch for poor grammar and spelling
  • Hover your mouse over email links to check their true destination. If the URL doesn't match the link, or seems suspicious, don't click on it
  • Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments from unknown senders
  • Update your computer's anti-virus software
  • Ignore calls for immediate action or messages that create a sense of urgency

If you've lost money as a result of this scam call the police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

Anyone who may have other information about these scams, including unsuccessful attempts to obtain money, is asked to contact the Calgary Police through the "Report a Crime" link.

You can also contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.


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