April, 2020

Scam Alert: The CRA Bitcoin Scam could be ringing on a telephone near you

Tell your family and tell your friends: If you owe Canada Revenue Agency (or any government agency) money, they will never ask for payment in Bitcoin.

In the past month, Coquitlam RCMP has seen an upswing in complaints about the CRA Bitcoin Scam. These fraudsters pose as police officers or tax collectors over the phone and threaten to arrest you unless you make payments in Cryptocurrency.

Scammers will try to instill a sense of urgency and panic in their victims and keep them on the phone through the whole crime, even teaching them how to send Bitcoin, says Corporal Michael McLaughlin with Coquitlam RCMP. It may seem like an obvious scam, but remember the fraudsters are targeting the elderly, new Canadians, and other vulnerable populations. We need to educate our family and friends because if these callers reach them first, the money is most likely unrecoverable.

While Coquitlam RCMP might typically get one report per month about this sort of scam, the rate has risen to one file per week in September.

To protect yourself from the CRA Bitcoin Scam, you can go to www.canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention and/or use these simple tips:

  • If you ever get a feeling that you’re being scammed, get off the phone. Take a few minutes to think about it,
  • If any government agency calls to say you owe money, get their contact information. Consult someone trustworthy before you pay any money,
  • The CRA will never demand immediate payment in Bitcoin, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards,
  • The CRA never uses text messages or instant messaging to communicate with taxpayers.

If you wish to report deceptive or suspicious telemarketing, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or go to their website. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, call your police of jurisdiction. To reach the Coquitlam RCMP non-emergency line, call 604-945-1550.

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