Many of us have received calls from phone scammers attempting to separate us from our money.
A popular one the last few years is the CRA scam when phone callers have identified themselves as officers from the Canada Revenue Agency and claim the call recipient is the subject of an investigation and target of an arrest warrant. If you don’t agree to pay money, the callers would say the police are coming.
“I was terrified, yes,” said James, a Brampton man who recently got one of the phone calls.
“I froze with panic and fear.”
James, who asked Global News not to report his surname, said the call on his mobile phone stunned him.
“I knew in my heart I wasn’t owing anybody, (but) for some reason I got duped,” he said.
James said over the next few hours, he followed instructions from the caller, fully believing the man on the other end of the line was, in fact, employed by the tax department, and serious.
“Reasoning and analyzing disappeared from my head,” he said.
Like the family member of a kidnapping hostage responding to a list of demands, James was compliant. He said he went to his Royal Bank branch in Mississauga and withdrew $10,000 cash. Then, he went to a Hasty Market convenience store in a strip mall as he said he was ordered to do by phone. All the while he was told his phone calls were being recorded and that he should not contact anyone else.
Passenger who fell from cruise ship treaded water for 20 hours to survive
Beloved Toronto metal music fan dies after three hospital visits in 10 days
Inside the store, James was directed to a Bitcoin machine, similar to an ATM. Utilizing a QR code he was sent by text, James deposited the $10,000 cash.
Yet the scammers weren’t finished yet.
“They wanted more money. Each arrest warrant (cost) $4,000,” he said.
But after depositing the money, James confided in a work colleague what happened. The colleague told him he’d been scammed. James said he went to Peel Regional Police and filed a report. He knows he will never get his money back.
James said he wish he knew in advance about the scam, but had never heard of it.
“I’m not doing this for my own benefit, but for others,” James said, explaining his decision to come forward about what happened.
His work colleagues felt badly for James and started a GoFundMe page, asking donors to help repay the loss.
James said he has a piece of advice for anyone who gets a call from someone claiming to work for the tax department and making threats.
“Just hang up the phone,” he said.