Beware of CRA scam making the rounds, Dryden police warn

Police in Dryden, Ont., say they're receiving reports about a familiar scam and are warning residents to be aware.

Dryden police say they've received several calls over the past few months about the scam

Police in Dryden, Ont., say they've received a number of calls over the past few months about the CRA phone scam. (CBC)

Police in Dryden, Ont., say they're receiving reports about a familiar scam and are warning residents to be aware.

"Over the last few months, we've had a number of calls ... from our own community regarding the [Canada Revenue Agency] scam," said Insp. Ann Tkachyk.

"The tactics that are being used by these scammers are, sometimes, very, very threatening and people, unfortunately get victimized because they're concerned."

Typically, residents get a call — either from a person posing as a CRA agent or an automated dialer — which eventually leads to the scammer telling the person about bogus income tax arrears and threatening a number of consequences for non-payment.

Some of the demands can be as much as $100,000, the Dryden Police Service said in a written release.

"Some of the tactics that are often used are ... 'we have warrants for your arrest' or ... 'we're going to take you to court,'" Tkachyk continued. "People are threatened with deportation and, in some cases, even the threat to lose their children."

"So they're very, very aggressive on the phone."

Tkachyk said that if residents get an automated call, never dial the number back.

"The government's not going to phone you or text you if you owe anything, they're going to send that in the mail to you," she said, adding that one big giveaway the call is a scam is if the person on the other end demands payment in other forms, like prepaid credit cards or gift cards.

And despite how long the scam has been around — Tkachyk said the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has pointed to it being one of the biggest cyber crimes in Canadian history — it continues to ensnare victims.

"They're targeting some of our most vulnerable populations," she said, adding that includes the elderly and new immigrants.

"They may not understand their rights or understand how the system works."

Dryden police recommended a number of safety tips, such as contacting the CRA to confirm whether you actually owe back taxes, not giving personal information over the phone, regardless and hanging up on suspicious calls and contact the CRA through official means.