Police say woman who claimed fake cops defrauded her in tax scam “exaggerated” story

Cops say she was bilked $6,000 — but it happened through the common phone scam, not during a fake arrest.
Photo via Flickr 

An egregious example of a ubiquitous tax scam in Canada did not play out as originally reported, according to Vancouver police who say the victim "panicked" and falsely reported that she was handcuffed by fake police during the ordeal.

In the initial report, police said a 58-year-old woman had received a call from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, who told her there was a warrant out for her arrest, related to money she owed in taxes. The woman said two men dressed in what looked like RCMP uniforms arrived at her location, handcuffed her, and placed her in the backseat of their car. They went on to persuade her to withdraw $6,000 from a bank and drove her to a Bitcoin machine in Surrey to deposit the money.

Advertisement

The case was so extreme, Vancouver police issued a public warning, complete with descriptions of the suspects and the car they were driving that had been provided by the woman, on Thursday. By Friday, they said they had new information.

"The victim was embarrassed for falling for the scam and panicked, deciding to exaggerate her story to include fake police."

“Based on the seriousness of the information originally reported by the victim, a team of Major Crime investigators were reassigned to focus on and prioritize this incident. Detectives confirmed this morning that the victim was embarrassed for falling for the scam and panicked, deciding to exaggerate her story to include fake police,” said Vancouver Police Department Constable Jason Doucette, according to News1130. “Our officers will continue with their investigation and will consider available options.”

Police now say they believe the woman was defrauded of the money, but that it occurred using the typical phone scam. They say she was never approached by anyone in person.

Police warn the public that the CRA doesn’t threaten customers with arrest, send police to collect funds, or accept Bitcoin and gift cards as payment.

While there’s usually a rise in CRA scams around tax season, between the beginning of March and the end of April, they happen year-round, with scammers using emails, phone calls, and text messages to get money and personal information.

Since the RCMP began tracking CRA scams in 2014, there have been over 56,000 complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and over $10 million lost, RCMP Sgt. guy Paul Larocque told the CBC in March.

This story has been updated to reflect new information from police.

Cover image by: Surrey RCMP via Flickr