A Salt Spring woman hopes to prevent her fellow islanders from becoming scam victims by sharing a disturbing experience she had last week.
Kathy Dryden said a male telephone caller claimed to represent the Canada Revenue Agency, advising that she owed the agency $3,000 as a result of an audit of her income tax records from 2011 to 2014. If she did not immediately pay the amount owed, he said, her bank accounts would be frozen and she would face court action.
At first, she was taken in.
“He had me,” she said. “He was a good talker.”
But when it came to getting instructions on how to make the payment, Dryden became suspicious.
Bizarrely, she was told to go to Pharmasave or Country Grocer in order to purchase iTunes gift cards totalling the amount owed, and “to be quiet about it.” When she stated that Pharmasave would soon be closed that day, the caller suggested she drive to the Chemainus Pharmasave, since “it’s only eight miles away.”
Dryden protested that it would be ridiculous to take a ferry to Chemainus to make any kind of purchase. The caller said he would stay on the phone with her until she got back home with the gift cards and would then walk her through the payment steps.
“When he said all that . . . I hung up. They tried to call me again and I didn’t answer.”
Dryden then talked to a local RCMP officer, who advised her to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Dryden gave the centre the caller’s phone number, circumstances and the names provided by the two different men she talked to: “Mark Jumbo and Ryan Smith.”
“I was just really rattled by it,” said Dryden of the whole experience.
Salt Spring RCMP confirmed their office has had numerous reports from island residents who have received phone calls from people alleging to represent Revenue Canada and demanding payments.
“We’d like to remind the public that Revenue Canada does not conduct their business in this manner,” said the RCMP in a press release. “Any calls of this type are a scam, and should be ended. Hang up your phone and do not provide any personal information whatsoever.”
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can be reached at 1-888-495-8501 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. More information about types of Revenue Canada scams, and other forms of fraud, is included on the centre’s website at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.