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Police warn of new, trending phone scams

Last Updated Nov 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm MDT

As phone scams become more prevalent, Calgary police say people need to take a moment to pause when someone poses as a government agency. They urge people to not answer the calls, or just hang up if it feels suspicious. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – It’s a new wrinkle to old scams, and police are warning you to watch out.

Police say they’ve received hundreds of reports this year of the SIN scam and one spoofing the CPS non-emergency line.

In the SIN scam, fraudsters pose as law enforcement or government reps claiming you haven’t paid your taxes or your Social Insurance Number has been compromised.

The caller is asked to provide personal information to verify their identity and asked to pay a fine, usually through purchasing pre-paid gift cards. If the caller refuses, they’re threatened with arrest or deportation.

“They’re playing on some innate fears people may have,” said Acting Staff Sergeant James Grossklaus. “I think any age group can be susceptible if they don’t take a moment to pause.”

Scammers are also posing as members of Calgary police, where caller ID will display the non-emergency number of 403-266-1234. The call usually rings once and hangs up, piquing the caller’s curiosity to call the number back.

This has led to an influx of calls to Calgary 9-1-1’s call centre.

Police say its non-emergency number will never show up on a call display, even if the call originates from CPS. The call display will show “Blocked.”

The CPS is not sure exactly how much money has been lost in the city due to these scams, but due to a rise in anecdotal reports, they believe the problem is getting worse.

It is also tough to investigate the scams due to the fact they are probably being made from different countries, and police won’t know where they originate unless a criminal slips up.

Officers say any legitimate government or police organization will never threaten arrest or demand payment by phone or process payment in cryptocurrency, gift cards or other alternative payment methods.

If you receive any of these scam calls, police say don’t answer it or call the number back and don’t provide any personal information or money to an unknown caller.

“Please, please understand that when you send that money, it’s gone,” added Grossklaus.

It leads to a simple message from police, even if it makes you feel impolite.

“Generally we are all nice people, we will answer a phone. But we didn’t place the call,” said Grossklaus, as he detailed how even he has received scam calls claiming to be from the police or government agencies. “Hang up the phone. You actually can.”

You’re encouraged to report any fraudulent calls to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.