Lake Cowichan’s Ian Gesman is warning his community about yet another income tax phone scam.
Gesman said he received a message on his home phone on April 2 from a man claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency stating that he owes taxes and if he didn’t arrange to pay the outstanding amount within 24 hours, the full force of the law would fall upon him.
“I was told that the police would show up to arrest me and my bank accounts could be seized, as well as my property,” Gesman said.
“I knew it was a scam and I reported the call to the RCMP and the CRA. I also know of two of my neighbours who had similar calls so I wanted to get the word out to everyone in the Lake Cowichan area that we’ve been targeted and to be aware.”
The Gazette called the number that was given to Gesman by the man who claimed to be from the CRA.
When asked if this was the CRA, the man who picked up the phone said it was.
The Gazette identified itself as a newspaper and asked what CRA office did the man work for.
The man simply giggled and hung up.
RCMP Island District spokesperson Cpl. Tammy Douglas said last month that with tax time on the horizon, income tax phone scams are increasing.
In fact, she said the RCMP’s Kimberly detachment received a call recently from someone claiming to be from the CRA, saying that back taxes were owed and that an arrest warrant would be issued if the money was not paid.
The problem is so widespread that the Better Business Bureau recently released a list of the Top 10 Scams of 2017, and the income tax scam was on it.
According to the bureau, more than $5 million has already been reported lost as the scam continues to proliferate.
Danielle Primrose, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. said in a previous interview that there is a new twist on the scam this year, with some scammers demanding payment in bitcoin, a currency that no government agency would accept.
Douglas said that in most cases, the CRA will use registered mail to contact people, not email or phone.
She said that if people are contacted by someone stating they owe taxes, they should contact the CRA directly to confirm the information.
“Never provide personal information over the telephone, by text or email,” Douglas said.
“If you’ve shared personal information, contact Equinox and Trans Union to place fraud alerts on your account.
For more information about frauds involving the CRA, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website.