Scammers used government phone numbers to seem legitimate

Impostors used phone numbers from more than a dozen Canadian federal government departments to defraud Canadians. The calls looked as they were coming from legitimate government agencies and police departments.

Some of the victims were told that their social insurance numbers had been compromised and others heard that they owe the government money and are in legal trouble.

To deceive potential victims who examined the numbers on incoming calls, the scammers spoofed their calls so that they display the phone numbers of the relevant federal government departments. In many cases, a scammer told a victim they will be getting a call from a police officer — then spoofed the call that came in a few minutes later so that it appeared to be coming from local police.

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 involved fraud artists claiming to be agents of the Canada Revenue Agency, while the newer scam impersonates more government departments. Likely the attempts of such frauds will continue to appear, and as potential victims, phone users should remain vigilant

How to prevent phone scams?

As the story is not the first of its kind and unfortunately not the last, we should keep in mind the importance of knowing our rights and basis of legal procedures. Whenever receiving a call from an unknown number, protective measures should be taken. While talking, we should have control over the information we give and remember that some details and personal information should not be provided or taken without previous consent. Any suspicious behaviour such as unprofessional questions, inappropriate curiosity or intimidation with legal consequences should be noted.

- 07 November 2019 - EN