“This call is from the tax department of Canada Revenue Agency,” a phone call recorded by Winnipeg telecommunications technician Drew Hawkins began.
“The reason behind this call is there is a case — a lawsuit that is getting filed under your name,” the monotone, robotic voice continued, before it suggested arrest was imminent if Hawkins didn’t comply with the recording’s orders.
Hawkins, who has a background in information technology, hasn’t fallen for a phone scam or any other fraud attempt — but 14,811 Canadians have, as of July 31 this year, according to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre data.
In fact, Hawkins sometimes records the calls he receives daily and he has had conversations with scammers.
“I troll them right back — sometimes I’m just curious and want to know what their scam is,” he said.
“A lot of people have had the fog horn — ‘you’ve won a trip, congratulations’ — so I’ll just start pretending to be excited and they’ll put me through, I’ll come up with an alias, I’ll give them fake credit card information and then I’ll wait to see what the reply is.”
However, he said, receiving multiple phony phone calls a day can be irritating — and the frequency and complexity of the scam attempts concern him.
“One day, you never know, it could catch you off guard with a clever phishing scam,” he said.
“I change my passwords regularly, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not vulnerable too.”
Hawkins said he’s reported attempted scams before but doubts the federal government would be able to firmly crack down on scams in the long term.
“It’s concerning, but I don’t think the feds can really do anything about because every time they’ll put a security measure in place… the scammers will find a way around it,” he said, noting scammers he’s had conversations with were from other countries.
In an interview, Manitoba RCMP Corp. Julie Courchaine suggested reporting any fraud attempts to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre — and to local police if you’re a victim — so authorities are aware of the latest tactics.
“For us to know what is going on, what is up and coming and what’s new — we need that to make the public aware,” Courchaine said.