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No, you can’t pay your taxes in Bitcoin: Mounties issue warning on new twist to CRA scam

A view of Bitcoin coins on a computer screen on December 12, 2017.
A view of Bitcoin coins on a computer screen on December 12, 2017. Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM

No, you can’t pay your taxes in Bitcoin.

That’s the warning from the North Vancouver RCMP after scammers defrauded a North Shore man out of $3,000 in the nearly untraceable cryptocurrency.

It happened on Thursday, when Cpl. Richard De Jong said the man fell victim to the common scam.

READ MORE: Bitcoin fraud on the rise as Canadians swindled out of $1.7M this year

Someone phoned, claiming to be an employee of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and warning the victim that they allegedly owed $8,000 in unpaid taxes. He was told that if he didn’t pay up police would come to his house and throw him in jail, De Jong said.

That’s where the scammers added a 21st century twist to the con.

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“The victim was then directed to make payment, as much as he could afford that day, by using a Bitcoin terminal,” said De Jong.

“So subsequently a payment of $3,000 was made by the victim to a Bitcoin reference code number which was supplied by the fraudster.”

READ MORE: Bitcoin tax scam defrauded more than 40 in York Region: police

De Jong said it was the first incident he is aware of in North Vancouver in which scam artists have used Bitcoin as a method of defrauding their victims.

The anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin mean that the stolen money is now likely gone for good, added De Jong, who said the incident should be a warning to others.

“Once that money is transferred by Bitcoin, it’s virtually almost impossible to record and to track that, to find out who requested it, find out where it got sent to. The chance of getting your money back is slim to none.”

READ MORE: Bitcoin price plunges 18% on crackdown fears; cryptocurrency rivals also fall

With tax time on the horizon, De Jong said police are expecting scammers to try and take advantage of people’s uncertainty or anxiety about their unpaid taxes.

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He said people should be extra vigilant when contacted by anyone claiming to be from the CRA.

And he said the red flag should go up instantly if they bring up Bitcoin.

“The CRA does not accept Bitcoin as a method of payment, first and foremost, people need to understand that.”