The RCMP are worried about a rising number of complaints about an aggressive phone scam.
In August alone, Mounties received 88 reports from around Saskatchewan about fraudsters calling and claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency. The callers tell victims that they owe back taxes or fines and then demand an immediate transfer of money.
Speaking to media on Thursday, Inspector Donovan Fisher explained that the calls likely originate outside of Canada. If so, he said that will make it difficult to catch whoever’s doing it, as modern technology allows scammers to route their calls through multiple countries and continents.
RCMP played a recording of a phone message allegedly left by a scammer.
He said there doesn’t appear to be any sort of pattern to who gets called and that complaints have come in from all across the province. He noted that while most complaints have been from people who suspected fraud, some people have been taken for tens of thousands of dollars.
Fisher said that in many cases, elderly people and new Canadians can be particularly vulnerable to these types of fraud. He urged everyone to be on their guard.
He encouraged anyone who gets a call from someone claiming they owe money to ask security questions. He said anyone from the Canada Revenue Agency should be able to provide information from a previous tax return upon request.
Fisher noted that in this scam, callers often use very aggressive language, threatening people with arrest and badgering them to send an e-transfer of cash immediately. He said that type of unprofessional behaviour should be a red flag for people.
In Saskatoon, police have reported receiving hundreds of similar complaints to the ones going to RCMP from around the province. One person in Saskatoon was defrauded of as much as $40,000.
Both the RCMP and Saskatoon police are encouraging people to report the calls.
Fisher said it was especially useful if people can remember what scammers said during the call, as that helps police track changes in the scripts being used to commit the fraud.