By now, it’s a well-known scam: fraudsters pretending to be the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) threaten legal action, unwitting victims pay out cash.
But West Vancouver police are warning of a new twist to the con that saw not one, but two unwitting — and unrelated — seniors nearly bilked of thousands of dollars in the same scam.
Police said it started with a 75-year-old West Vancouver woman who was contacted by a fake CRA employee demanding $5,000 for “unpaid taxes.”
They convinced the victim to mail the cash to an address in Langley, which she did.
Fortunately, her son found out what happened and called authorities. Because she’d sent the letter through registered mail, Canada Post was able to intervene and intercept the money before it arrived at its destination, according to police.
And that’s where police said the new twist comes into the scam.
Police monitoring the postal outlet where the cash was destined detained another senior — a 90-year-old woman — who came to pick it up.
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But she wasn’t the scammer either, police said. Instead, she appears to have also been targeted in an added layer of complexity to the fraud, said West Vancouver police Const. Jeff Palmer.
“She advised our officers she had been notified that she had won a cash prize, and that she could collect it at the post office,” he said.
Investigators believe that once she would have picked up the money, the very same scammers would then have targeted her in turn.
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Police are using the story to remind people once again that the CRA will never ask for unpaid taxes through untraceable money transfers, mailed cash payments, Bitcoin or pre-paid credit cards.
Taxpayers should also be suspicious of alleged contacts from the CRA by mail, text message, email or telephone asking for unexpected tax debts or personal information, police added.
If you get a call claiming to be from the CRA, police say you should hang up and contact the agency directly at its official phone number.
Anyone who believes they or someone they care for has been a victim of fraud should contact police.
- With files from Kyle Benning