File photo.

Scammers posing as CRA employees target Castlegar residents

Scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency employees are targeting Castlegar residents.

Scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency employees are continuing to target Castlegar residents.

A local woman called the Castlegar News to report that someone claiming to be from the CRA phoned and left her a message: “This is Canada Revenue calling and if you don’t respond to this call immediately an arrest warrant will be issued in your name.”

When Sandy Charette returned the call, the person who answered said that she owed the CRA money and repeated the threat that an arrest warrant would be issued if she didn’t pay right away. She was also asked if she had a criminal lawyer.

“Do you have one? Because you’re going to need one,” Charette said the woman on the phone told her.

But Charette said as soon as she questioned whether or not the woman was really with the CRA and accused the woman of trying to scam her, the caller hung up.

Sgt. Laurel Matthew of the Castlegar RCMP Department said this is consistent with reports she’s received.

“They’re just looking for the person that’s going to bite. The minute you say ‘This is a scam,’ they hang up, or they swear and hang up,” she says.

Matthew says that the CRA will not threaten you with an arrest warrant, and not to be intimidated if they happen to mention the sergeant by name.

“They’ve actually done a bit of research here because one lady called, it turned out she was a friend of mine, she got a call saying if you don’t pay the Canada Revenue Agency this money right now, Sgt. Matthew from the Castlegar RCMP is going to issue an arrest warrant and arrest you,” she explained. “So they’re doing a bit of research now and coming up with names.”

If you receive a threatening call from someone claiming to be from the CRA, just hang up.

March is Fraud Prevention MonthCharette is far from the only Castlegar resident to report receiving one of these calls, but her experience occurred just in time to remind residents that March is Fraud Prevention Month.

Throughout March the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) is featuring a different scam each day on its social media accounts so that people will be able to recognize each different scam.

“Share our tweets and Facebook posts with your friends and family, and talk about these scams. The more you know about a specific scam, the less likely you are to be a victim,” reads the CAFC’s website at antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

Matthew also wanted to warn Castlegar residents about a few specific scams the Castlegar RCMP have encountered.

The first is emails or letters from companies or institutions that appear legit.

“I got one from Shaw, allegedly, saying click on this link and change your information because your Shaw account’s going to expire, but when I hovered my mouse over the email address it came [from], it came back to somebody in some weird country,” explains Matthew.

She says these kinds of emails have also been reported showing up with the Bank of Montreal or Apple as the sender. No matter what company sends you this kind of email — asking for money or personal information — delete the email and contact the company directly using the contact information on their website if you think there could be a legitimate problem.

The other is a pop-up scam that targets people viewing online pornography.

“If you’re watching porn on your computer, a thing will pop up, and it will say, you’ve been caught watching porn, you must pay $100 right now, or we’re going to send the police to your house,” Matthew told the News. “And it comes with sirens and everything.”

Matthew assures people that the police do not arrest anyone for watching legal pornography.

To learn more about popular scams, follow the CAFC on Twitter at @canantifraud or like the CAFC on Facebook at facebook.com/Canadian-Anti-Fraud-Centre-Centre-antifraude-du-Canada-143784455661162.

If you receive a fraudulent scam or email, you can report it on the CAFC website.