In what might be a Canadian first, scammers pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) physically came to a Victoria-area woman’s home and threatened to arrest her.
Victoria Police spokesperson Bowen Osoko says the chilling new twist on the long-running scam took place on Friday.
He said the target, an Esquimalt woman, had received a series of fake CRA calls demanding money for allegedly unpaid taxes in the days leading up to the visit from the bogus CRA employee.
On Friday, she got a knock on the door.
“She answers it and there’s a man claiming to be from the CRA, with handcuffs, telling her that she knows that she has not paid her taxes because she’s got these phone calls for a number of days and she’s been ignoring them, and he is there to take her into custody if she does not give him cash right there,” Osoko said.
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He said the woman slammed the door on the man and called 911.
Police are now looking for a tall, slim Caucasian man in his 30s with short dark hair. He was wearing a blue suit and was last seen in the 800-block of Dunsmuir Road.
Osoko said police are reminding the public that the CRA won’t call them asking for money, and will never show up at their door with handcuffs.
“If a circumstance does warrant arrest, they work with local RCMP and local municipal police departments to effect arrest. Again, they’re not going to show up at the door.”
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It’s just the latest twist in a scam that has seen multiple variations, including scammers asking for bitcoin or playing off two separate victims against each other.
Osoko said it’s a troubling development, and highlights the growing sophistication of scammers.
“One of the things we’re finding is that often these scammers seem to have done some research. They may be utilizing some form of registry, so often they know the name of the person who’s going to answer the phone when they call,” he said.
“They often will appear to know the person’s address.”
Osoko is asking anyone who may have been targeted by this man or someone similar to contact the Victoria police at (250) 995-7654, or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.
People who are contacted by anyone claiming to be from the CRA are advised to hang up immediately and contact the agency directly.
— With files from John Daly