Nfld. & Labrador

Phone scamming fraudsters posing as CRA changing tactics, making hundreds of calls

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is warning the public about a recent phone scam from fraudsters claiming to be police officers or investigators with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Police say seniors are a target, and some are falling for the scam

The RNC is warning the public about phone scams from people claiming to be police or investigators with the CRA. (CBC)

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is warning the public that a phone scam from fraudsters claiming to be police officers or investigators with the Canada Revenue Agency is picking up steam.

They received hundreds of calls on Thursday afternoon alone.

"[They're] stating that people owe money in back taxes and they are using a lot of bully tactics to convince these people that they are in fact real, and in an effort to either get some sort of money transfer to them," said Const. Geoff Higdon.

"Or the newest one now is a lot of them are actually trying to get people to go out [and] purchase iTunes gift cards as a form of payment."

Just hang up. That's all you need to do. You don't need to argue with them, just disconnect the call.- Const. Geoff Higdon

Higdon said a man recently bought $500 worth of iTunes gift cards and gave the passcode to the caller. The man said he was given the option to pay thousands of dollars in back taxes or $500 in the gift cards. He was threatened with having his income frozen if he chose to contest this and start an investigation.

"Which is absolutely not something that the CRA or the government is going to do is freeze all your income during an investigation like that," Higdon said.

"The problem with this is that people, I guess, are falling prey to a lot of these tactics because they're so aggressive that they're basically convinced that this has to be the real thing. But the reality is the CRA would never call people and, I guess, bully them for back taxes."

On June 2, CBC reported an extortion attempt at TD Bank in Mount Pearl where an elderly man had received a scam call and then attempted to withdraw thousands of dollars.

The RNC are asking the public to think closely about who they are speaking to on the phone, and educate those in their families who may not follow the news or social media, Higdon said.

"It's sad because you have a lot of hard working people who are becoming victimized because of this. We're seeing a lot of elderly people in the community who maybe aren't making that much money or [are] living on a lot less than a lot of us, and they're the ones losing all this money," Higdon said.

"So we're trying to educate the public…just hang up. That's all you need to do. You don't need to argue with them, just disconnect the call."