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'Hang up': RCMP intelligence officer weighs in on scam calls frustrating Canadians

Posted on November 19, 2019

Canadians across the country have expressed their frustration with the influx of scam and robocalls purporting to be from such federal organizations as the Canadian Revenue Agency and RCMP across the country.

For many Canadians, these calls involve a robotic voice informing the listener that they are in imminent danger of arrest or a lawsuit, before proceeding to ask for personal information. Many Canadians report receiving multiple calls a day.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) confirmed to CTVNews.ca in an email Thursday that these calls are “one of the top reported scams” that they deal with.

In 2019, so far the CAFC said they had received 2,639 reports about scam calls related to the Canadian Revenue Agency.

“They are international in scope,” the CAFC said, which means that “jurisdictional and legal challenges in collecting evidence” will be an issue, as law enforcement investigators will have to abide by laws in other countries.

The CAFC spokesperson added that caller ID “spoofing” makes it difficult to trace or identify the origin of the calls along with the use of “pre-paid cards and virtual currencies for the receipt and laundering of victim’s funds” adding a layer of sophistication to the scam which makes it harder for law enforcement to investigate.

Thompson said there were three critical aspects of these calls that Canadians should pay attention to:

Don’t trust caller ID

“Call display today can be spoofed,” Thompson said. “Spoofing involves fraudsters manipulating those numbers that appear on your call display, and they can make it look like it’s a government department calling, a local telephone number [or] they can put your local police phone number.”

Automated messages

Thompson said that while federal bodies like the RCMP may leave a message for someone, “they’re definitely not going to threaten anybody or scare anybody to call back.”

“It’s never going to have that aggressive tone to say you need to do this right away,” he said.

Using automated messages that have “alarming” tones is really the fraudster’s way of “extorting and coercing an individual’s reaction to the call,” Thompson said, adding that that is how they move into asking for money.

Asking for money

Thompson explained that once the fraudsters get the victim to react to the message, they will ask them for money, usually in “Bitcoin or gift card” form –warning that is something the government would never do.

“If anyone asks you for money or financial/personal information over the phone…simply hang up,”.