Saying that the incident “has taken the CRA scam to a new level,” Vancouver Police are again warning the public to be diligent when dealing with people claiming to be with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The latest warning comes after a 58-year-old woman received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the CRA, around 4 pm on Wednesday.
“The caller told her there was a warrant for her arrest related to a balance-owed from her taxes,” said VPD Const. Jason Doucette. “The woman was then connected over the phone to another fraudster claiming to be an RCMP officer. This person was able to manipulate the woman into providing personal information, including her location at the time.”
Next, two men, dressed in what appeared to be RCMP uniforms, arrived at the victim’s location and handcuffed her and placed her in the backseat of an older-model sedan.
She was persuaded to withdraw $6,000 from a bank near Cambie Street and West King Edward Avenue and was then driven to a Bitcoin machine in Surrey to deposit the funds. Once the transaction was complete, the suspects left the area without the victim.
“This incident has taken the CRA scam to a new level,” said Doucette. “Taking physical control of someone like this can be considered kidnapping.”
The first suspect is described as a white male, in his 30s, 5’11”, with an average build, light brown hair and a full, trimmed beard. The second man is described as a white male, 25 to 27 years old, short brown hair and clean shaven.
Both suspects were wearing what looked like short-sleeved, RCMP shirts and blue pants with yellow stripes down the sides. Both were wearing police duty belts, including what appeared to be firearms.
The suspects were driving a black, older model, four-door vehicle with worn-out seats.
“We are reminding people to hang-up on anyone claiming to be from the CRA. If you want to double check, call the agency at a publicly available number,” said Doucette.
The CRA will not threaten customers with arrest, send the police to collect funds, or accept Bitcoin and gift cards as payment. More information is available on the Government of Canada’s website.
Anyone with information about those involved in this incident is asked to contact the VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.