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Toronto police urge public to 'immediately' hang up on scam phone calls

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The Toronto Police Service is warning the public about an ongoing telephone scam where fraudsters claim to be representatives from a government department or police agency.

“The caller claims that your Social Insurance Number (SIN) was used to fraudulently open bank accounts, and other illegal transactions,” the release from police states.

Toronto police have identified that the caller will give you a fake name, ID number or badge number, and will ask you to send money in the form of Bitcoin to a fake government account, or ask that the payment be made in gift cards, credit card or through Western Union.

“The caller will make false threats that failure to comply will result in an arrest warrant issued, or they will send local police to their home and arrest them immediately,” Toronto police warn. “In some cases the fraudsters use a program to display the telephone number of either the revenue agency or local police on the victim's caller ID display.”

Officials are urging anyone who receives one of these calls to hang up “immediately” and are reminding the public that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) will never ask you to send personal information through an email link or text message. The government department will also never request payments in the form of cryptocurrency, prepaid credit cards or gift cards, or send the police after you.

Elderly people have been identified as the most vulnerable group to fall victim to this scam.

Where it started

Last week, CBC News discovered that fraudsters have been “spoofing” phone numbers from federal government departments, or police, to scam Canadians.

Earlier this year, the RCMP and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre worked with international authorities to takedown approximately 40 call centres in India, which were responsible for a CRA tax scam where the caller says the victim owes money to the Canadian government and will be arrested if they fail to pay the outstanding amount.

Anyone who has been a victim of of type of fraud should report it to local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or over the phone at 1-888-495-8501. The fraud centre is also alerting Canadians that its toll free number has been “spoofed” in this current scam and no calls from this number should be returned.

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