RCMP have seen an increased number of reports come in lately as people have fallen victim to telephone scams.
The Stony Plain/Spruce Grove/Enoch RCMP are reminding the public of the threat of telephone scams due to an increase in reports in the last few weeks.
Staff Sergeant and Detachment Commander Mike Lokken has said he has seen reports of scammers claiming to be the Canadian Revenue Agency or another agency saying a person owed a certain amount in tax dollars or else they would be arrested. Often these scam would ask for payment through bitcoin or iTunes gift cards.
"The general message that we want to tell people is that if it's a reputable agency, they do not accept bitcoin and they do not accept iTunes cards" says Lokken. He also adds despite this message being out there people are still spending and losing hundreds if not thousands of dollars to pay off their "debts".
Lokken also states that some of these scams can be very convincing and are intended to prey on good-hearted people who are looking to right their alleged wrongs. He adds often the messages say they must pay back a certain amount of money or they will be arrested by the police, to which Lokken notes,"Nobody phones and says you will have a warrant issued for your arrest, if you are going to be arrested we don't give you a heads up we just come and arrest you". He goes on to say that local police do not come and arrest people for the Canada Revenue Agency.
He does add, if people actually do have to pay money to their revenue agencies it is best to go to your financial institution to pay it that way. He says, "if it's a legitimate agency and if it is Canada Revenue Agency it will definitely go to Canada Revenue Agency if you do it through your financial institution".
Lokken also warned people may feel like they owe money shortly after tax season, but even in these circumstances, the CRA will typically contact someone through phone and once again he reiterated they will no threaten to arrest someone if they don't pay the money back.
Other tips Lokken offers to prevent theft through scams are:
- Never give personal information out over the phone
- Ask for a callback number
- Ask simple questions about the agency (ex. "What does CRA stand for?")
- Go to your financial institution in person if you suspect something
- Ask what detachment they are calling from and validate the phone number
Lokken also says unfortunately, when people encounter these scams people often never recover their money and there is little the police can do if the company is located in another country.
If people do suspect they have encountered a scammer on the phone Lokken does recommend contacting local police but he also urges people to go online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or call them at 1-888-495-8501.
Staff Sergeant Lokken has also provided examples of the scams he has encountered:
Scam Call #1:
Scam Call #2: