How a woman fell victim to the Canada Revenue Agency scam in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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How a woman fell victim to the Canada Revenue Agency scam in Kamloops

Andrea Gieselman is warning others of Canada Revenue Agency phone scams after losing $500 last week.
September 21, 2018 - 7:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Your phone rings and you're told you owe the Canada Revenue Agency thousands of dollars or there will be a warrant issued for your arrest.

As you begin to ask questions you notice the person on the other end of the line — who presents themselves as a Canada Revenue Agency agent — begins to get aggressive by telling you the only way to get out of trouble is to give them as much money as possible. For some people this is enough to raise suspicion but for others it could cost them everything in their bank account.

Over the years, Canada Revenue Agency scams have been on the rise, either by phone or email, the reports of people being targeted have prompted the federal agency to develop a fraud protection guide with tips, real scam stories, and even transcripts of the most common phone or email scams out there.

Andrea Gieselman's story is no different. She recently fell victim to a phone scam involving the Canada Revenue Agency and the Kamloops RCMP. She's embarrassed, but she's agreed to tell her story to warn others who might fall for the scam.

Gieselman is from Savona and spends time travelling to and from Kamloops to visit friends and family. She loves to spend her days off riding her Harley, going on hikes with her dog and camping.

But on Wednesday, Sept. 12 shortly after 7 a.m., she was awoken by a phone call with a 236 area code. Before she could answer, the caller left a voicemail.

When Gieselman checked the message, she was told her there was a lawsuit filed under her name from the Canada Revenue Agency tax department and that she needed to call back as soon as possible.

Unaware of stories of previous phone scams involving the revenue agency, Gieselman was worried and called back.

A man who called himself Jason White answered and told Gieselman she owed more than $7,000 from the past four years and if she didn't pay, she would be arrested.

"Unfortunately I wasn't doubtful," she says. "I was instantly anxious and scared because I don't have that much money."

Gieselman has been off work due to medical reasons and only had $500 at the time of the call.

She spent approximately two hours on the phone with the man who pretended to be a Canada Revenue Agency agent. Gieselman was asked to search the Kamloops RCMP detachment's number and give it to the man she was speaking with.

"He made me Google it, and he told me he was going to call (the police) to see if they could rescind the warrant and at that point I had agreed to give them my last $500," she says, adding that whenever she became upset or cried on the phone the man would raise his voice.

After Gieselman gave him the local police number, she received a phone call on her iPhone with the Kamloops RCMP caller ID display.

"I answered it and it was a lady she said 'Hello this is the Kamloops RCMP detachment, do you understand there was a warrant out for your arrest?'"

The woman pretending to be a police officer asked Gieselman if she had any credit cards, a line of credit or any other funds.

"She was hesitant when I said 'No' and she kept asking are you absolutely sure and I said yes."

Gieselman was instructed to call the Canada Revenue Agency agent back and she was told to drive to a 7-Eleven in downtown Kamloops to purchase gift cards. She was told to stay on the line with the phone scammer the entire time.

She ended up purchasing $500 in iTunes gift cards and read the serial number on the back of the cards over the phone once she was back in her car. The scam artist told her it still wasn't enough and they needed more money. At this point, she decided to go to the RCMP detachment.

"I still believed this was a real thing and I was so close to the police station so I drove myself there to turn myself in," she says. "I introduced myself at the station and told the police there was a warrant out for my arrest and the lady behind the counter started shaking her head."

Gieselman says the woman at the Kamloops RCMP detachment asked her if it was someone saying they were from the Canada Revenue Agency.

"She said it's a scam and she apologized," Gieselman says. She was told there was nothing RCMP could do.

Gieselman says she called back the scammer. 

"I said 'Hello Jason I just talked to the police and I know this is a scam,'" she says. "We lost connection and that was the end of that."

Although some might say they would never fall victim to a phone or email scam, Rick Walker, a software security analyst with Thompson Rivers University says for people unaware of these scams, a fake phone call or email from a scammer can sound realistic.

"These people prey on vulnerable people; from people who have never had issues with the law to elderly people," he says. "And often times people don't report it because they are embarrassed."

RCMP have been issuing warnings about variations of the Canada Revenue Agency scam for years. The latest earlier this month was an effort to tell the public that warrants for arrest are never issued over the phone.

“If you receive a phone call like this, hang up. You will never receive a phone call that tells you there’s a warrant issued for your arrest,” Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said in a media release. “Those matters are handled via paper documentation, typically served in person by a uniformed officer.”

For Gieselman, she hopes by sharing her story she can prevent someone else in a more vulnerable situation from being scammed.

"I feel betrayed because I am a trusting person, and I have learned my lesson," she says. "By telling people what happened to me I hope I can help at least one other person become aware."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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