Beware of the low life tax scammers

As I write this, it’s just after noon on Feb 7, and already today I have received FOUR bogus calls on my cell phone claiming to be from Revenue Canada. The scum of the earth, low life scammers¬† are working overtime at this time of the year, trying to squeeze every penny out of ordinary Canadians.

Let’s get something straight, Revenue Canada is NOT likely to call you, their preferred communication method is mail because they and you want a paper trail.

However, the scamming pigs hope you don’t know that, and so they are calling thousands and thousands of numbers every day, hoping they can play on your fear, hoping you will call them back. In my case, they have been trying this little game on me for several years now, and I can tell you they are getting more sophisticated as time goes on.

It used to be that their voicemail messages were almost unintelligible, with strong Indian accents, pathetic grammar, and poor quality connections. Now, they are most often voice-generated, accent-neutral messages, and often clear enough to hear every word, and every nuance designed to scare the hell out of you, or the money out of you!

And, if you have call display, they sometimes seem to come from Ottawa. But check this out…

Today, I had two calls from 1 (613) 627-3045 (both before 8am). And then, on the third call it mysteriously showed as +31 3 6273 045, which displayed as originating in Australia. In the past week I also had calls from five or six US locations.

FACT… The calls do not come from Ottawa, Australia, or the USA. Most of the scamming calls originate in India, where thousands of ordinary folk are employed by sleazy con artists, sometimes being led to believe that they really are calling on behalf of Revenue Canada. Unfortunately, most of them know they are crooks, but they need the meager pay to survive, while the organizers rake in millions a year and spend their time jet-setting around the globe.

So, what can you do? Some people (knowing it is a scam) actually call them back and play along just to waste their time. There are some very entertaining calls on YouTube where people did that and made the scammers angry. However, it is not what I would advise. They will then have your number and could get nasty, offensive and even threatening. Instead, if you see a number on call display that you do not know, I recommend you ignore it. If it is someone who really wants to talk to you they will leave a message. And if the scammer leaves a message, you’ll see through their trick immediately without having to talk to them, and you will get on with life without fear.

– Kenneth

CRA Hoaxers are still at it – Read this republished article from two years ago!

It’s around two years ago that I published the article below. It tells of my horror when I first received a hoax call claiming to be from the CRA. I am re-publishing it! Why? Because I still get two or three calls A DAY from these swines, and I know many others do too. Since that first call I am wise to their tricks. If you want to get wise too, I suggest you go onto YouTube and search for “Hoax CRA call” and you can have a good laugh as scam-busters call these criminals back, wasting their time until the exasperated fraudsters swear at them in some foreign language! In the meantime, please read this article again, it could save you a lot of grief. – Kenneth




I was starting to sweat, actually if I am honest I was beginning to panic. All sorts of thoughts were racing through my head as I tried to process what I had just heard on the phone. The call had supposedly come from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and it had told me I was under federal investigation for problems with my tax papers.

This really happened last night folks, to me, the owner of EsterhazyOnline. And yes, I really did feel fear, and panic, and that sick feeling you get in your body when you don’t know what the heck to do. All sorts of fearful questions were racing through my mind, they conjured up horrible images of police investigations, and shame, and ruin. But the first question I should have asked myself only came to my befuddled mind ten minutes later, “Is this a hoax or is it real?”

As it turned out it was a hoax, a really nasty one, and you’ll find out how I came to that conclusion as you read this story. And please, share this story with other Canadians, for this terrible “business” of telephone and email hoaxes defrauds good people out of more than $70 million every year.

When the call came in at 2:48 yesterday afternoon, I was fortunate to be on another call at that time. Why fortunate? It means the call went to my voicemail, allowing me not only the luxury of listening to it many times, but also the ability to play it back for the RCMP today.

Anyway, it was sometime after 8pm last night that I finally checked the voicemail, and what I heard literally drained the blood from my face. Here, word for word, is what the caller said.

My name is officer Johnathan Knight from CRA, that is Canada Revenue Agency. The matter in hand is extremely time sensitive, and needs your urgent concentration for the same. The reason for the urgency is that we have found misconduct on your tax papers, because of which you are found fallacious, and under federal investigation. Don’t try to disregard the message, and if done, it will be seen as an offense from your end. Give me a call back as soon as possible. Again, this is officer Johnathan Knight from Canada Revenue Agency.

After hearing those words for the first time I was in a state of panic. Sure, I knew that I had not done anything deliberately wrong in my taxes over the years, but I had done the taxes myself until this year, using one of those programs you can buy at numerous Canadian retailers, and so there was that gnawing possibility that in my ignorance I had screwed up royally.

Even though the caller had not given a number to call him at (a potential red flag) there was a number on the records of my phone, and it was an Ottawa area code. I decided not to call it because it was so late. Then, I literally paced the floor in my home office wondering what the hell to do. I was sweating, the blood had returned to my face and it was now bright red. I was scared, genuinely scared. It was a horrible feeling.

Then, I remembered that for the first time in years, I’d had an accountant do my taxes. I found his business card and called his office, knowing I’d get an answer machine. I left a frantic message, laced with genuine fear. I hung up and just knew there was no way I could sleep with these feelings racing through my body.

I went on Canada 411 and found my accountant’s home number. As I dialed it, I was praying he’d take the call. He did. I explained the situation and then I asked “Does the CRA really do this kind of thing?” At last, doubt was beginning to replace the initial fear.

The CRA does not call people unless they have been unable to reach them with repeated attempts by mail first” he said. “I would not lose any sleep over it, I’ll call CRA in the morning to check and get back to you.” he assured me.

At last the panic was subsiding, but the anxiety-producing adrenalin was still coursing through my body. I asked myself, “Why did the caller not identify me? He never used my name”. I also asked, “Why did he not give a callback number.” And, one I should have noticed right away, “Why did he have such a foreign accent?”

I went online and stared hitting the search engines for “CRA Hoax Calls” and was shocked to see how common this really is, but typically none of the common situations matched what I had been told. In most cases they ask for personal information, or scare people into making a payment, or want confirmation details that the CRA would already know. The fact that my call seemed to be unique added to my fears.

This morning, after a few hours had gone by, I heard from my accountant. He told me he’d been in touch with CRA and there were no problems with my records, there was no investigation, there was nothing to worry about. The CRA confirmed it had been a nasty hoax.

I went to the RCMP after that. I played the recording and gave the officer the number. We talked at length about the terrible problem that this is, and I was given the following advice to pass on to readers.

1. The CRA typically NEVER calls Canadians. They typically use the mail.

2. Do not call the number back.

3. If you have already called them back and you did NOT give any personal information or DID NOT send money, then get in touch with the CAFC, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. (WEBSITE HERE)

4. If you called the number and DID give personal information (SIN, bank details, business number, name, date of birth, etc) OR if you DID make payment (Paypal, cheque, money order, or any other method) THEN contact the RCMP immediately.

Later this afternoon, I received a call back from the RCMP. They had called the number associated with the voicemail and the line had gone dead within seconds. It is possible that the initial call was intended to strike fear into the listener (which it did!) and that it was intended to motivate a call back using the caller ID number listed on my phone. In this case it was the RCMP who called them back, not me.

If the intention is to provoke the call back, it is highly likely that it is a way of the crooks harvesting numbers that are now considered “hot leads” as it were. These numbers will likely be called back and then the pressure and extortion will begin in earnest.

I now feel glad that this was a scam, but even yet I feel a residue of the nervousness that the situation created. It was sheer hell.

What if I had taken the original call? Without the luxury of time to think about it, would I have fallen for some smooth-talker with aggression in his voice? Would I have given out personal or financial information? Worse still, would I have sent them money? I hope I would not have, but in the heat of the moment and with the panic that such a call provokes, who knows.

MANY Canadians fall for this every single day. One hoax caller admitted to the CBC that he raked in tens of thousands of dollars a day from what he called “not so smart Canadians.”

And what if I had been an elderly and infirm pensioner? What if the fear had set off a heart attack? Yes, I bet that happens too.

The point it this. These ________ (add your own description!) are out to get as many people as they can, and they are getting smarter and more sophisticated all the time. So bottom line, NEVER take a call supposedly from the CRA on its face value. Tell the caller you will call back the CRA using a number you will obtain yourself. If they get angry then too bad! The CRA won’t be typically calling you anyway, and in the unlikely event that they do, they will understand if you call back on a number you are given independently by the phone directory services or an accountant.

CRA phone scams are big business, with call centers set up in foreign countries specifically to call Canadians like YOU and I. Learn from my horrible experience, and be wise.