The so-called Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam has cost Canadians millions of dollars over the last few years and that number is on track to rise this year, according to officials with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Calgary and the East Kootenay region.
BBB spokesperson Shawna-Kay Thomas told Global News the scam bilked people out of $3 million back in 2015. In 2016, that figure had gone up to $4.3 million and by 2017, it topped $5 million.
Thomas said 2018 could be even worse, making the CRA scam one of the most costly cyber scams in Canadian history.
“This scam is just not going away,” Thomas said. “The scammers are not giving up.”
The scam usually involves a phone call from someone claiming to be from the CRA. The caller, or sometimes a recording, then tells the person on the phone they owe a certain amount in back taxes and if they do not pay up, a police officer will come and arrest them.
The BBB says there are normally three types of people targeted: newcomers, seniors or millennials. Newcomers are targeted largely because they may not be aware of how the Canadian government does business, seniors because they are perceived as vulnerable, and millennials for perhaps a surprising reason.
“We do get millennials who get those calls and get caught off-guard, too,” Thomas said. “Because millennials tend to think they can’t be scammed.”
There are several red flags to look out for when it comes to this scam, including the tone of the phone call, which is often aggressive and threatening.
The CRA will also not ask for money over the phone, for credit card numbers or for iTunes cards as payment. It will also never threaten to send a police officer to your door to arrest you.