Another tax season is here and fraudsters are working overtime to get your money.
Edmonton police are reminding people they cannot pay their taxes with gift cards.
Last year, 187 victims in Edmonton reported the fraud to police, each losing in the range of $100 to $72,000 with a total loss of $625, 582. That’s just the amount police know about.
“These calls can be confusing and overwhelming,” said Det. Linda Herczeg with the EPS Economic Crimes Section. Herczeg said fraudsters target those who don’t understand the tax process or are most vulnerable and look for ways to manipulate their victims.
“Their strategy is to keep you on the phone and under pressure, so you don’t question why your taxes need to paid with $2,500 in music gift cards.”
Here’s how the scam works:
Victims are contacted by phone, text, email or letter and threatened by someone claiming they are with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) or RCMP. They then request personal information or demand payment of back taxes with prepaid credit cards or gift cards.
Fraudsters usually scout out stores that don’t ask a lot of questions, and direct people to buy their cards in bulk at specific retailers. Once the cards are activated and the pin number handed over, the cards numbers are sold on the black market.
Walmart has trained its staff to look out for gift card scams and its victims. Walmart said cashiers have already stopped distraught customers from buying thousands of dollars in gift cards.
Another man paid more than $70,000 to scammers pic.twitter.com/ILhYf0dhdU
— Quinn Ohler (@Quinnohler) March 22, 2017
CRA awareness signs have also been posted at gift card kiosks.
Still, Canadians are falling victim. In 2016, approximately $4.3 million was lost in this scam.