Arresting tax scam: Man shows up at door with handcuffs

A scam where fraudsters impersonate Canada Revenue Agency staff has taken on a “concerning door-to-door twist” with a man carrying handcuffs showing up at a woman’s home, Victoria police said.

Officers were called to a home on Dunsmuir Road in Esquimalt about 11 a.m. Friday by a woman who said the man threatened to take her into custody if she did not give him money right away.

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She closed the door on him and called 911.

Bowen Osoko, spokesman for Victoria police, said that having someone show up at a home as part of a Canada Revenue Agency scam is a first for the department, and very troubling for investigators.

“It’s really strange,” he said. “That’s a lot of investment in a scam.”

Osoko said there is probably more than just the one person involved.

The scam usually begins with a phone call or recorded message from a stern-voiced person saying the recipient has to call back immediately, he said. “The core of the ruse is: ‘You owe money on your taxes, there is a warrant for your arrest, we’re on our way to arrest you right now if you don’t pay,’ ” he said. “They’re extremely, extremely aggressive.”

People are usually told to drive to a bank or other financial institution to obtain the money, Osoko said.

In reality, if anyone were to owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency, they would be contacted by registered mail. The agency does not contact people by phone and does not ask for personal information.

Nanaimo RCMP also issued an advisory regarding a scam with a Canada Revenue Agency theme after hearing from several residents who received threatening phone calls in recent weeks. Some were left terrified after being told they would be arrested within an hour and have all their assets seized, RCMP said.

Such calls are most often received between March and June, when people tend to be paying their taxes, RCMP said.

They said the best thing to do if contacted is to simply hang up.

After that, you have the option to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501; online, go antifraudcentre.ca and click on the “report an incident” tab.

Anyone with information about the Esquimalt incident is asked to call Victoria police at 250-995-7654 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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