Fewer threatening calls from fake tax agents because of arrests in India

Canadians are receiving fewer scam phone calls from fake Canada Revenue Agency agents demanding money, but must still be wary of fraudsters despite the lull, the RCMP said in a statement on Friday.

The drop in calls is likely the result of arrests in Thane, India, on Oct. 5. Authorities in India arrested about 70 people from a call centre and questioned hundreds of other call-centre employees.

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People in Canada and the U.S. have been plagued by aggressive callers claiming to be tax agency officials. Reading from a script, they accuse their victims of owing large amounts in back taxes and threaten to have them arrested.

Initial reports said the arrests in India were linked to U.S. Internal Revenue Service scams, but the RCMP has since discovered they were also involved with calls into Canada.

Complaints about Canada Revenue Agency scam calls “significantly decreased to a small fraction of what was reported for the weeks and months leading up to these arrests,” the RCMP said.

“Though the reports have diminished, it does not necessarily mean that this scam has stopped.”

The scam callers have also pretended to be immigration agents and police officers.

They have sought payment through transfer services such as MoneyGram or Western Union, pre-paid credit cards, iTunes gift cards, electronic fund transfers and Steam gaming cards.

Although the calls often sound amateurish, many people have been taken in.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has estimated that since January 2014, about 1,900 victims have paid $5.7 million to fraudsters pretending to be government officials. In that time, the centre has received reports of 37,000 calls where someone has demanded money to resolve tax or immigration issues.

Real government officials do not seek payment by making threatening phone calls, the Canada Revenue Agency says on its website. Its representatives will not ask for prepaid credit cards or gift cards, nor ask for information from a passort, health card or driver’s licence. If you receive a scam call, hang up; you can report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at antifraudcentre.ca.

Many people never report falling victim to the scam, the RCMP statement said. Victims are being urged to contact police to help with their investigations.

Accomplices in Canada appear to be helping with the scam and police are asking for public help to track them down.

— The Canadian Press and Times Colonist

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© Copyright Times Colonist

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