Each year around tax season the Canada Revenue Agency scam pops up again, with callers posing as CRA officials demanding payment or else the receiver would face jail time for tax fraud — a claim that is untrue, as the agency does not call residents to demand money. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Bank employees save Penticton woman $6k from CRA scam

Would-be victim said she was hit while vulnerable from a family issue and initially fell for the trap

Penticton bank employees saved a local woman nearly $6,000 after she nearly fell victim to the Canada Revenue Agency phone scam this week.

“I don’t know why; they were really good. I just believed that I was in trouble because I know that my accountant legitimately made a mistake on my taxes,” Holly MacKinnon said. “I should have known better, because the CRA actually owes me money.”

MacKinnon said she got a call from someone claiming to be from the CRA and when she called back she was hit with official-sounding details like affidavit numbers, badge numbers and the works.

Related: RCMP inundated with tax scam complaints

Currently going through a major family issue, MacKinnon said she feels she was vulnerable to begin with, so when she got the call saying she was in trouble, her defences were down.

“For some reason, I guess I just thought ‘OK, there was a mistake made. I could be in trouble.’ And so I went down to the bank and the ladies at CIBC were like ‘Um, no, you’re withdrawing $6,000, can I ask what for,’” MacKinnon said.

That was the moment that saved MacKinnon, a single mother, a large sum of money, and she was sat down by the bank employee and the manager to talk about the issue.

Related: Weight loss, cryptocurrency fraud among BBB’s top-10 scams of 2017

Looking back, MacKinnon said the signs were all there, but in the heat of the moment they were glazed over.

“The person I was talking to on the phone — I should have clued in then, because she advised me ‘don’t tell anybody what you’re doing.’ She was really intimidating. I actually believed I was going to get freaking arrested by the RCMP today and thrown in jail for fraud,” she said.

“So the ladies at CIBC saved my butt, today.”

MacKinnon said she wanted to send out the warning that the scam is out there, adding that she’s got a lot of sympathy for vulnerable individuals like the elderly who fall victim to the scams and actually lose money out of it.

Related: Two-thirds of seniors have been scammed online

When she called the RCMP about the incident, she said police told her she was the fifth or sixth person to call that day about the CRA scam.

Tax scams have been a perennial issue for years, now, cropping up every springtime. In fact, last spring, Penticton RCMP said it was inundated with calls about the scam.

Police did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication, but the scam typically comes with the same warnings from the RCMP.

“I want to remind the public that the Canada Revenue Agency does not call demanding payment and they do not threaten people. If someone calls identifying themselves as representing the CRA just hang up,” Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth said last year.

“Also, these calls do not need to be reported to the RCMP as it is stretching our resources when it comes to dealing with other matters. If you have hung up the phone, and not provided any information, then there is nothing to worry about. However, if you have been the victim of an actual fraud, then please report that.”

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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