By Susan Gamble, Brantford Expositor
A Mississauga man has been convicted in Brantford court in a Canada Revenue Agency phone scam.
Mohammadakib Shaikh, 25, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud after three victims were ordered to pay immediately to settle “out of court” for back taxes they were told they owed the CRA.
Shaikh was sentenced on Aug. 16 by Justice Robert Gee. He got a five-month conditional sentence of house arrest and was ordered to pay back almost $12,000 to the victims, including a Brantford man.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says that the CRA scam is growing at an alarming rate.
A senior fraud specialist told the CBC this week that 800 people reported being taken by this scam in the first half of 2016, that’s more than in all of last year.
And the anti-fraud agency figures it’s seeing about only five per cent of actual cases.
During one week last June, Shaikh contacted three people and told them that arrest warrants had been prepared in their names because they hadn’t responded to previous attempts by the CRA to contact them.
The victims were told they owed back taxes or had been audited and had misrepresented their income.
A Whitby woman was told a warrant would be executed within the hour if she didn’t pay $2,900.
The victims each sent money through Western Union, MoneyGram or directly into a bank account registered to Shaikh.
Each victim was then contacted again and told the CRA required additional court fees.
The Brantford man sent $1,286 but became suspicious and called police after being told to send another $2,165.
A Kitchener man made two payments, totalling $3,550.
The Whitby woman sent $6,400.
A police investigation found Shaikh was cashing the payments by using his personal bank account.
Brantford police Insp. Dave Wiedrick said their investigation led to the other victims.
Shaikh must replay $11,900 and will remain on probation for three years.
Wiedrick said the police continue to warn people about the CRA scam.
He said that the scam always involves people saying they are CRA investigators and that victims haven’t paid their taxes and failed to respond to numerous communications from CRA.
The fraudster uses a high-pressure tactic to scare the victim into transferring money through Western Union, Moneygram or by purchasing pre-paid credit cards or iTunes cards.
Brantford police urge people to hang up on such callers and always confirm with a family member or bank before transferring any funds.
And police said the people should never send personal or financial information over unsecured email or give out such information to unknown people over the telephone.
If contacted about your personal financial accounts by email, never click on a web link to “verify” or “confirm” information, said police.
The CRA doesn’t operate using wire transfers or pre-paid cards and doesn’t use scare tactics.
Educate yourself about the latest scams by visiting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website at www.antifraudcentre.ca or call to report fraudulent calls at 1-888-495-8501.