On October 5, 2016 Indian Authorities completed a police operation in Thane, India. This operation revealed that a number of “Internal Revenue Service (IRS)” call centres were convincing victims to send money to fraudsters for a debt that they did not owe. 70 suspects were arrested on October 5th, while hundreds of other call centre employees were detained for questioning. These call centers reportedly employed over 700 individuals.
Although the initial press releases made reference to just the IRS component of this scam, it is identical to the “Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Scam”. The difference is that the pitches are tailored to the specific country. After the police operation in Thane, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) observed that the number of reports related to the CRA scam had significantly decreased to a small fraction of what was reported for the weeks and months leading up to these arrests. Though the reports have diminished, it does not necessarily mean that this scam has stopped.
Members of the RCMP Greater Toronto Area Financial Crime Unit would like to remind the public to remain vigilant of this type of scam which has been perpetrated by imposters claiming to be from the CRA, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada employees (Formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada), as well as a number of police agencies across Canada.
This scam has been a very profitable enterprise for these offshore fraudsters. Based on statistics from Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) more than 1,900 victims have disbursed more than $5.7 million to fraudsters posing as government officials since January 2014. Over that same time period, the CAFC have received reports of roughly 37,000 calls made to Canadian residences demanding they send cash to resolve outstanding tax and/or Immigration related matters. Most disheartening of all, based on CAFC analysis, the aforementioned numbers represent only 5% of the actual losses.
Fraudsters have impersonated government officials and/or the police by telephone or by email. Fraudsters are either phishing for your identification or asking that outstanding taxes and/or fees be paid through the following means: money service business (Western Union or MoneyGram), electronic funds transfer (EFT), pre-paid credit cards, iTunes gift cards, and most recently “Steam” cards (Gaming websites).
These fraudsters extort money from their victims through a number of different threats. These types of frauds are being perpetuated coast to coast, and have impacted both male and female victims from many different age groups and cultural backgrounds.
Many victims never report these incidents to the police. If you or a family member has fallen victim to this fraud, please report to your local police service, as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You have two ways to make a report to the CAFC; either by phone at 1-888-495-8501 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time) or through their online reporting tool at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
The RCMP is in the process of tracking down a number of known Canadian based collaborators and is seeking the assistance from the public in identifying other suspects who are residing here or abroad. The RCMP is requesting that only those who know the true identity of the suspects call the “O” Division Central Intake Unit (which is located at the RCMP’s Toronto West Detachment) toll free number and provide their information: 1-855-253-7267.
*Press Release from RCMP