Police warn public after increase of scams spoofing as police agencies

Photo by Jim Reardan.

After receiving an influx of calls from the public regarding spam calls in the region, Kingston Police are warning to public to beware of scams involving spoofing police agencies.

According to Kingston Police, scammers have recently been taking a new approach that involves spoof calls from police agencies. In short, this means that when a call is received from the scammers, it appears to be either the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Department of Justice, or Kingston Police on caller ID.

On the calls, citizens are being told that the call is in relation to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issues with tax returns that “require immediate attention,” police said. The callers then make threats indicating that failure to act will lead to being arrested. Other scam calls indicate that there has been criminal activity conducted using the victim’s social insurance number (SIN).

“Once compliance is gained, citizens are then being asked to withdraw large sums of money from their bank accounts and then transfer the funds into bitcoin, which is an untraceable form of currency. Alternatively they are also being asked to send Google Play cards or Apple iTunes cards to avoid a ‘warrant’ being put out for their arrest,” Kingston Police said in a press release on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.

“Recently, numerous concerned members of the public have advised that, because RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, Department of Justice, and Kingston Police phone numbers have shown up on their caller ID, they have felt that the calls must be legitimate and therefore have provided money to the scammers.”

Kingston Police is reminding residents that representatives from any police agency would never contact citizens and request that they provide money in the form of Bitcoin or gift cards, nor would they threaten to arrest individuals or issue a warrant due to failure to pay any form of monies owed to Revenue Canada or the Department of Justice. Police are also reminding citizens not to provide their SIN to the scammers.

“Do not fall for this scam. Do not send money to the scammers. Please advise family and friends that may be more vulnerable or aged to not fall for these scammers’ new tactics,” Kingston Police said.

If citizens have received one of these phone calls from the scammers, Kingston Police encourages them to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or visit their website here.

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