One woman's first-hand account of alleged CRA scam
Nearly sent $2,800 to alleged scammers
Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 06:00 am
An Olds resident has come forward to tell her story about an alleged Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam in hopes that more people don’t fall for it.
Marjorie Cheecho says the incident occurred last week. She received a call from a person indicating they represented the CRA.
“They left a message stating that I needed to contact them and there was a warrant for my arrest,” she says.
Cheecho didn’t call back right away, but in the morning, decided to check into it.
“They had all this information about being audited every five years and that I was one of the people who had been audited,” she says.
“So then they proceeded to say that I would be arrested if I didn’t want to take care of it today.
“I could go to court and fight it, they told me as well, but it would cost money and they had this whole line of how much I could lose if I lost, and that I could lose my home and I could lose all my credit rating and my car. Just about everything that you own you could lose.”
She was told she owed $2,890, given a confirmation number and a callback number.
Cheecho was told to stay on the line no matter what, as they gave her more information.
“He just said if I disconnect, that’s when the warrant would be acted,” she says.
That was the first of several red flags in Cheecho’s mind, but the caller had a lot of information about her and her husband and how they file their taxes so she wasn’t sure – it sounded like the caller really could be a CRA representative. And she was worried about possibly going to jail, losing her credit rating, etc.
Another red flag went up when the caller told her to send the money via the post office to Connecticut.
Cheecho says she told the caller, “’that’s not making much sense to me. Why would I send my money to the United States?’
“Then he had this big spiel that by the time he was done, I actually thought I was talking to Revenue Canada again. Because he said something about you know how so many immigrant Canadians go there, U.S. citizens come to Canada; it was just well done.”
A third red flag went up when the caller told her not to disclose her discussion with him to anyone – including her husband.
When she got to the post office, the caller told her to stay on the phone.
“The lady at the post office, when I asked for the transfer, she said, ‘do you know who this person is?’ And I just shook my head because he told me I couldn’t,” Cheecho says.
“So I just shook my head and she (said) ‘give me your phone.’ And then she just said to him, ‘you’re a scam, the police are investigating you and you need to stop bothering this lady, she’s not sending you her money.’
“Otherwise, I think I probably would have sent my money, as embarrassing as that is, because I would have thought for sure (I’m going to jail if I don’t),” she adds.
The woman at the post office told her she was the fourth person they had dealt with regarding the alleged scam – one person was an elderly man.
Cheecho told her husband what happened. When the alleged scammers called back, he spoke for her because she was too upset -- still slightly convinced that what they said was true. When he answered the phone, they hung up.
The Cheechos told the whole incident to Olds RCMP.
“They said they really couldn’t do a whole lot because it’s so viral, I guess,” Cheecho says. “They gave me a printout which I am taking to the school and going to print off and give to all of my co-workers.
“I was actually kind of a little disappointed, I guess, but there are bigger things going on I guess. They didn’t take a statement or anything.
“I deposited my money into the bank and I thought, ‘OK, I can be brave and do this. If it saves one person from being taken advantage of (then it’s worth it).”
“I still can’t believe how close I was to being scammed.
“It’s bad enough when we have our homeless people and whatnot living on our streets. People are struggling today.
“And people fall for this. I am living proof that it can happen – even to the typical population of our world.”
In a news release, Olds RCMP say there’s been a “noticeable increase” in attempted CRA scams in recent weeks. The detachment estimates it has received “20 to 30 enquiries daily this past week.”
Fraud attempts have been made via telephone, letter, emails, text messages and via online refund forms.
“Most recently the email attempts have been especially frequent,” police say.