EDMONTON — Edmonton Police have issued a warning about a phone scam targeting the Indo-Canadian community, along with other immigrants. The scam threatens them with deportation unless they pay thousands of dollars.
Police have received several reports of the scam in the past month and some people have fallen victim to it. Those targeted said they received calls from people claiming to work with Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Immigration Canada or a police service.
The fraudulent caller stated that individuals have not filed their taxes appropriately, or have not registered themselves as alien immigrants. Police said the fraudsters allegedly made threats of issuing warrants for arrest, jail time, loss of immigration status and deportation.
“They’re unfamiliar with the procedures in Canada,” said Constable Pritpaul Bhui of the Edmonton Police Service.
“They believe this to be completely genuine, so they are very fearful that they will be arrested or deported.
“The caller on the other end is very aggressive with how they communicate the urgency of this payment,” added Bhui.
Police said the criminals provide specific instructions to purchase PayPower Visa prepaid cards or gift cards in various amounts. The victims are then told to provide the information from the back of the gift cards to the fraudsters over the phone. The process makes the scam hard to trace.
“Retailers selling gift cards should also be aware of these types of scams,” said Bhui.
Gift cards for this scam have been purchased from places around Edmonton, including grocery stores and gas stations.
“In one incident, a retailer informed the complainant they were being scammed and advised them to report the occurrence to police,” Bhui said.
Edmonton police said people who are suspicious about a call from a federal agency should ask for more details and call the agency back to confirm the request is genuine. The potential fraud should also be reported to police.
Those who have already fallen victim to the scam, or know someone who has, are asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm.