A North Vancouver man is out $3,000 after scammers pretending to be tax collectors convinced him to pay his supposed bill to the taxman with the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
The scam happened Thursday when the man received a phone call from someone who said he was an employee of the Canada Revenue Agency. The caller told the man he owed $8,000 in unpaid taxes and if he didn’t pay immediately, police would show up at his house and he would go to jail.
The fraud victim was then directed to make a payment for as much as he could afford that day through a Bitcoin terminal.
The man did as he was instructed, said Cpl. Richard De Jong, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP, transferring $3,000 using a bitcoin reference code number supplied by the fraudster. It was only after he pressed “send” that the man realized he’d been scammed, said De Jong.
De Jong said variations of the CRA scam are not new – people have been getting similar phone calls for years from fraudsters posing as tax collectors demanding money.
In this case, the victim knew he owed taxes, said De Jong, but “not to the tune of $8,000.”
Being told to pay with bitcoin was a new twist, however, said De Jong.
De Jong said it’s not hard to see why fraudsters would want to use bitcoin – it’s almost impossible to track transactions through the system, which relies on the victim punching in a code allowing access to their bank account. The person receiving the cryptocurrency could be “anywhere in the world,” said De Jong.
De Jong said the man was embarrassed and upset that he’d been taken by scammers, but wanted to warn others so they wouldn’t fall into the cyber trap.
De Jong warned as tax time is approaching, scam artists will use a variety of creative means to separate victims from their money.
The CRA will not call up taxpayers and threaten or coerce them into paying a tax bill, said De Jong. The taxman also does not accept bitcoin as a method of payment, he said.
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, has been in the news this week after losing 50 per cent of its value from a record set only a month ago, then bouncing back and regaining some of that.
The currency is still worth 10 times more than it was a year ago.
Regulators have recently mused about bringing cyber cash under greater regulation, particularly as cryptocurrencies have proved susceptible to hackers.
If anyone wants to confirm that a CRA representative has actually contacted you, De Jong advised residents to call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individual concerns or 1-800-959-5525 for business-related calls.
Residents can also any frauds to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or call them at 1-888-495-8501.
Read the original story over at NorthShoreNews.