Scam artists are really fooling and defrauding a record number of Canadians by using phone numbers from more than a dozen federal government departments. They often successfully convince victims they are receiving the call from a legitimate government or police agency.
Some of the calls tell potential victims that their social insurance numbers have been compromised. Others are told that they owe the government money and are in legal trouble.
To deceive potential victims who examine the numbers on incoming calls, the scammers spoof their calls so that they display the phone numbers of the relevant federal government departments. In many cases, a scammer tells a victim they will be getting a call from a police officer — then spoofs the call that comes in a few minutes later so that it appears to be coming from local police.
The scam is impacting government departments as they are finding themselves spending time fielding phone calls from frantic Canadians about the calls they’ve received.
The calls spoofing the phone numbers of several different government departments appear to be part of a newer, more sophisticated version of a scam that has been running since at least 2014. That older scam involves fraud artists claiming to be agents of the Canada Revenue Agency, while the newer scam impersonates more government departments.
Since 2014, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 78,472 reports from across Canada of scammers pretending to represent the CRA or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The centre said 4,695 people across Canada have lost more than $16.7 million to the scam.
Here’s a list of some of the federal departments and agencies whose phone numbers are being spoofed:
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Canada Revenue Agency
RCMP detachments in Kingston and Cornwall
Correctional Service of Canada
Canadian Centre for Cyber Security
Privacy Commissioner’s Office
Competition Bureau of Canada
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Canada Border Services Agency