The Canada Revenue Agency is warning taxpayers not to be fall victim to what has become a popular and aggressive scam resulting in millions of dollars being stolen.
Representatives from multiple law enforcement agencies, banks and insurance companies gathered on Thursday at CRA offices in downtown Toronto to send out a clear message during tax time that if the phone rings, taxpayers should be on guard.
“A lot of it has to do with phone calls and demanding immediate payment, threatening arrest, threatening jail, using really aggressive language,” said CRA spokesman Paul Murphy.
An estimated nine in 10 Canadians have been scammed through phone, email or in person.
In many cases, people are getting calls to their home by someone claiming to be a CRA agent. They notify the resident they are about to be taken to court or police are about to come to their door to arrest them if they do not pay thousands of dollars owed in taxes immediately.
A fake tax agent has even shown up at homes demanding payment as part of the scam.
“People are getting, in some cases, more bold,” said Jeff McGuire, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. “The biggest part of it is the constant phone calls, the ability to send blast emails.”
CityNews was told in November of last year that the Toronto Police Service received more than 1,500 complaints related to the CRA scam in 2015.
“Our financial crimes unit is seeing this as a major problem,” Deputy Chief James Ramer with the Toronto Police Service said Thursday.
The proliferation of these scams has resulted in police forces from across Ontario, and even the United States, working together to try and stop the individuals behind the scam.
Ramer said that stopping them has proven difficult with calls often coming from an Internet phone line, making them difficult to track.
Just the week, Toronto police laid nine charges in connection to an income tax-related scam that resulted in victims in both Ontario and Alberta.
Abhi Thakkar, 20, of no fixed address, was charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, and laundering proceeds of crime.
The CRA says its agents would never ask to meet in a public place to receive payment, nor would they ask for credit cards, gift cards or wire transfers.