A Mission man has been conned out of more than $5,000 because of a telephone scam that is being run across Canada.
The long-time local resident, who asked that his name be withheld, wants to warn people in the area not to fall for the “convincing” con.
The incident took place last week. The man came home to discover a message on his answering machine claiming to be from a Revenue Canada federal investigator.
When he phoned the number, he was greeted by someone saying “Revenue Canada, how may I help you?”
He was then transfered to someone who claimed to be Richard Benjamin, senior tax lawyer for Revenue Canada who preceded to accuse the Mission man of evading taxes from 2004 to 2010. He was told the investigation shows that he has been evading taxes on purpose and he was being charged on three counts and each count had a one-year sentence. They were also suing him for $35,000.
“I was in shock. They sounded professional and convincing.”
He was told if he paid a portion of the money owed now, they would cancel the warrant for his arrest.
“Unfortunately, they got me, because they were very convincing and I sent the money away.”
He sent them $5,200 through the Internet. That money is now lost.
But his ordeal didn’t end there.
The scammers phoned back and told him the judge was not satisfied with the payment and wanted an additional $7,800.
That’s when he thought he might be involved in a scam.
When he refused to send more money, he received another phone call from a man claiming to be a Mission RCMP constable, who told the man to stay at home because he was coming to arrest him.
“I was so scrambled at that point, I said I’m going to the Mission RCMP right now.”
When he arrived at the Mission detachment, he discovered that no such constable existed.
The man decided to go public with his ordeal.
“I just want a report to go out because I know there are a lot more senior people than me who would be devastated. I’m lucky I can absorb the $5,200 loss, but there’s a lot more out there that can’t.”
It’s been more than a week since he lost his money, and he is still shaken from the con.
“Now I haven’t slept well for four days, thinking how was I so gullible that they were able to scam me.
“In hindsight, I can see 50 red flags but at the moment they’ve got you scrambled and thinking in 20 different directions. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God I can’t leave my wife at home alone and be incarcerated for who knows how long before I get to court. I’ve got to settle this.’ ”
Mission RCMP Staff Sgt. Rob Dixon said phone scams are always a concern, adding fraud by phone or online is never going away.
“People should be alert and confirm information with these agencies any time they get contacted by phone,” said Dixon.
He added the RCMP often directs the people who report these kind of scams to Phonebusters or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Both the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Canada Revenue Agency have issued warnings on their websites about this kind of scam.