The Ottawa Police Service Organized Fraud Unit is advising the public to exercise caution when receiving phone calls from anyone identifying themselves as an employee of any Canadian Government Agency.
These calls typically feature either a person or a recording telling the responder that they owe money in taxes, or that they are involved in a crime – money laundering or drug trafficking – and an arrest warrant has been issued in their name. Next, responders are informed that an officer will come and arrest them if they do not pay up.
Government Agencies will never ask for money over the phone (whether via credit card numbers or prepaid cards). Nor will they threaten to send an officer to your door to arrest you.
Payments are often asked to be made by way of deposits into a Bitcoin machine. Bitcoin is a worldwide virtual currency and digital payment system. It is unregulated and untraceable. Therefore, money lost is impossible to recover.
Despite the number displayed on a call seeming local, these scams often originate outside of Canada. Organized fraud scammers are skilled at covering their tracks and can disguise their contact numbers and computer Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. “For these reasons it is nearly impossible for police to resolve these complaints” said Sergeant Arsenault of the Organized Fraud Unit, “prevention is key”.
Sergeant Arsenault suggests these safety tips:
- Don’t give personal or financial information out over the phone or via the computer to unknown sources.
- Ask the caller for their name, phone number, and the company they work for so you can verify their identity.
- Speak to a trusted friend or family member to get a second opinion.
- Familiarize yourself with common scams and how they work.
More information and tips on Fraud Prevention can be found on the Ottawa Police Service website. Reports of Fraud can be made by calling the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300 or online.