The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has launched an awareness campaign to warn the public of an ongoing scam by imposters claiming to be employees of the federal department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Sgt. Penny Hermann, a spokesperson for the RCMP’s “O” division, which is responsible for federal policing in Ontario, said the fraudsters try to target recent immigrants and sometimes resort to vicious threats.
(Click to listen to the interview with Sgt. Penny Hermann)Listen
“In this scenario, someone calls and says that they are from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and they have bad news,” Sgt. Hermann said speaking on the phone from Milton, Ontario.
The fraudsters demand that person who picked up the phone identify themselves, as well as people living with them, including their children, Sgt. Hermann said.
They often prompt the victim to give out personal information such as their address, passport number and occupation – information that could also be used for identity theft – then demand the victim wire money, saying they have changed their status without advising the IRCC and must pay additional fees, she said.
In some cases the fraudsters even threaten to kidnap the victim’s child if they don’t cooperate.
The RCMP could not say how many cases of this vicious fraud has been reported so far, but said it was serious enough for the force to launch an awareness campaign.
This fraud scheme is similar to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam, where the fraudsters pretending to be federal tax officials demand the victims pay fictitious debts to the CRA, said Sgt. Hermann.
Both of these frauds are being perpetrated coast to coast, and target victims from many different age groups and cultural backgrounds, she said.
What to do
If you receive a suspect phone call from someone purporting to be the IRCC, CRA or other government agency take their number, hang up, find the real number for the agency in question and call back to see if someone had actually called you, Sgt. Heramann said.
“When people are calling you saying you owe money, it most likely is a scam,” she said. “The government won’t be calling you and asking you for money.”
You can report any fraud attempt to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), either by phone at 1-888-495-8501 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time) or through their online reporting tool at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm