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By Rick Vandekieft

Have you ever been told, “You are going to jail”? I am not talking about the last time you played Monopoly but instead during a phone conversation with an employee from Revenue Canada.

Have you ever received a unexpected cheque from a company that asks you to do a few simple things and the money is yours?

When was the last time you received an email from a former Nigerian army general or Albanian bank president.

These are just some of the many fraudulent schemes being perpetrated on good people. This is not about something happening in the states or Toronto and Montreal, these are happening to hundreds right here in London. These latest scams seem so realistic yet they are nothing more than illegal methods to get your money and as much of it as possible.

In this article, I am going to provide you with examples of just a few of the most recent received by me. What is most amazing is how telephone, email and mail scams have changed over the years. Until recently, the scammers were based offshore and their game was to get you to send money via Wells Fargo or by Western Union for some “very important reason.”

No longer are these criminals reaching out from Russia, Romania and Nigeria and other far away lands. Today the numbers show as 519 area codes and letters have local postmarks. When you (not “if you” because you WILL eventually) be on the receiving end of these calls, emails and/or letters, don’t respond, don’t say anything, don’t agree to anything but do contact the authorities (see below).

1) The Canadian Revenue Agency scam

The following is a realistic portrayal of a Canadian Revenue Agency scam that has been seen by RCMP investigators. I have personally experienced this scam and the following is no exaggeration!

This approach is one of many used by fraudsters.

Imagine a middle-aged man who has had a long hard day at work, and all he wants to do is just to relax as he watches his favorite TV program.

The home phone rings and his wife says they are asking for “Tom Marshall”. (The number displayed on their caller ID was 800-959-8281, which is a valid CRA phone number)

Tom takes the call when his wife passes the phone to him:

CRA Imposter: Hello I am calling from the Canadian Revenue Agency, is this Tom Marshall?

Tom: Yes, who is this, what is this regarding?

CRA Imposter: This is Eric Foster (an Anglophone surname, which is confusing as it is contrasted by a strong ethnic accent) of the Canadian Revenue Agency and my badge number is CRM 3542. Can I please have your date of birth and address?

Tom answers the question and asks, Can you please tell me what is this related to? Is there a problem?

Eric Foster (CRA Imposter #1): Yes we checked your tax returns form 2008-2013 and we found you owe $5,000.This is a serious matter and you better resolve it now.

Tom: I don't understand. I did my taxes on time and I always pay what I owe. This makes no sense.

Eric Foster (CRA Imposter #1): You better cooperate otherwise you will be arrested and all your assets will be seized. (Raised tone of voice)

Tom: Why didn’t I get something in writing to inform me of this?

Eric Foster (CRA Imposter #1): We have sent you numerous letters which you did not answer so this is your last chance to resolve this debt.

Tom: I don’t’ understand, you are making me nervous, I do want to deal with this now but I still don’t understand how I could owe so much...

Eric Foster (CRA Imposter #1): Interrupts…… Sir, I have my supervisor, Mr. Jonathan Knight, here and he will explain this better to you.

Tom: Ok, ok...(while on phone, wrote a note to his wife asking her to call CRA from her cell and inquire on the badge number and if this is legit call)

Jonathan Knight (CRA Imposter #2): This is Mr. Jonathan Knight badge number CRM 49711. Mr. Marshall this is a very serious matter and you are required to pay us in the next two hours or else an arrest will be made. You owe us $5,000!!!

Tom: I don’t have that amount of money available. That is too much and I definitely won’t have it in the next two hours.

Jonathan Knight (CRA Imposter #2): What do you have in your bank account Mr. Marshall?? Tom?? You better take me seriously, we need a payment tonight. We need you to send an electronic money transfer in next two hours!!

Tom: I could get half that cash in 30 minutes or so but not the full $5,000... (his wife now wrote a note to him saying” It’s a scam, hang up”)

Jonathan Knight (CRA Imposter #2): Sir, you are not understanding how critical this situation is, do you want to go to jail??

Tom: I think you are not who you say you are and you are trying to scam me. I will call the local police and report this immediately.


2) Mystery Shopper Scam

To the right, you will see the letter I received from David Brown along with a form to complete and a cheque made out to me for $1950. The cheque looks real, from Apotex Inc. – Signet, a company in Toronto drawn on an account at Bank of Montreal, King St. Toronto.

The letter explains that I have been selected to participate in a paid Customer Research Program known as “Secret Shopping”. Assignment is to be completed within the next 48 hours.

Enclosed is a cheque for $1950 issued in your name. This is to assist you with your first assignment. Once you receive the cheque call David Brown at 1-365-777-1102 to guide you and give you instructions. Below is the breakdown of how the money is to be spent:
  • Purchase $100 of items from Wal-Mart and detail the experience on the evaluation form. Receipt must be retained.
  • Purchase $100 of items from Sears and detail the experience on the evaluation form. Receipt must be retained.
  • Transfer $1450 through Western Union and detail the experience on the evaluation form. Transfer reference number and receipt must be retained.

That totals $1650 and the letter goes on to say the balance, $300, is mine to keep AND that I am expected to act in accordance with the Employee Code of Business and Ethics which was emailed to me (No such email was ever received.)

The hook? The recipient cashes the cheque at his/her bank and does as instructed. Nice and easy and $300 profit PLUS the stuff he/she bought from Sears and Wal-Mart are his/hers to keep! Sweet deal!

Yes, sweet until your bank calls him/her to advise that the cheque has been returned because it’s drawn on a non-existent account and the $1,950 has been debited from his/her account.

I was amazed at the sophistication of the scam as, just for fun, I did a web search of the company, Apotex Inc. – Signet. It’s a real company and the address shown on the cheque is the correct address. It’s not in the secret shopper business or any type of marketing research. Apotex Inc. is the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company employing 10,000 people. The real Apotex was unaware of this scam using their name until recently

3) Email scams

The email scam from my dear friend Mr. Johnson Kofi. I just need to provide him the bank information and credit card information he needs to cover the costs of the transfer and he will transfer the $12.5 million to my account and I can keep $2.5 million for myself!

If I had actually followed up on all of these offers that I have received from disgraced government officials, banking principals, high ranking military officers and members of royal families, I would now be a Quadrillionaire (That comes after a Trillionaire). There must be people that fall for these email scams because they keep coming. (Typos in email not corrected. What you see is what I got)

Good day Rick,

My Name is Mr. Johnson Kofi, and am a branch manager of a financial banking firm, i came in contact of you through the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Industry,I need your help in a particular transaction.

I simply need your assistance in transferring a sum of US$12.5 Million dollars to a foreign account,The money is part of the profits from my branch last year (2015),I have already submitted annual report for last year to my bank headquarter in Accra-Ghana, and they did not notice the excess profits.

I took the opportunity to deposit the US$12.5 Million dollars in an escrow account without a beneficiary (Anonymous) to avoid any trace.

All i need is your assistance to enable me do the transfer straight into a foreign account, that is why i contacted you, so should it be of interest to you please kindly reply through the email so we can discuss further details.

I await your soonest reply

With Regards,
Mr. Johnson Kofi

4) Virus by email

There are two other troublesome emails I want to tell you about.

This one is very common:

Dear Rick,

Courier was unable to deliver the parcel to you.
Shipment Label is attached to email.

Warm regards,
Donald Holman,
Sr. Delivery Agent.

These emails have an attachment included and most certainly, opening the attachment will unleash a computer virus that varies from mild to catastrophic.



Friends, these are just four of the literally hundreds of scams going on right now. So what do you do if you think someone is or has tried to scam you through the mail, by mail or by phone?

Report it, even if you are not sure.
It's not always easy to spot a scam, and new ones are invented every day.

If you suspect that you may be a target of fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don't be embarrassed - you're not alone. If you want to report a fraud, or if you need more information, contact:

The Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre:
Toll Free
Hours of operation Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Moving forward - Please follow this prevention advice
  • Be suspicious of any e-mail or text message containing urgent requests for personal or financial information (financial institutions and credit card companies normally will not use e-mail to confirm an existing client's information).

  • Contact the organization by using a telephone number from a credible source such as a phone book or a bill.

  • Never e-mail personal or financial information.

  • Avoid embedded links in an e-mail claiming to bring you to a secure site.

  • Get in the habit of looking at a website's address line and verify if it displays something different from the address mentioned in the email.

  • Regularly update your computer protection with anti-virus software, spyware filters, e-mail filters and firewall programs.

  • A number of legitimate companies and financial institutions that have been targeted by phishing schemes have published contact information for reporting possible phishing e-mails as well as online notices about how their customers can recognize and protect themselves from phishing.

  • Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.

Trustworthy and helpful Links
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- Public Safety - Get Cyber Safe
- Canadian Bankers Association