1. The scammers will claim to be the CRA and, in an attempt to gain their trust, provide personal information about the target.
  2. The scammers will state the target owes a large sum of money in taxes to the CRA.
  3. The criminals will claim that, should the target fail to immediately pay their taxes through the bitcoin ATM, they will be sent to jail.
  4. The scammers will do everything they can to keep the target on the phone in order to pressure them into making the transaction.
  5. Demographic of targets: The elderly, recent immigrants, the young (students with little knowledge of legal systems), and workers who receive payment under the table.

How it works

Once the scammers have convinced their target that they owe money to the government, a QR code will be sent to the target via SMS or email. This QR code is the scammers’ Bitcoin wallet address, to which the bitcoins will be sent. Once the QR code is scanned by the ATM, the target will be told to deposit their cash into the  machine, to convert it to bitcoins.

After completing the transaction, the bitcoins will be sent to the scammers’ Bitcoin wallet address. Once the bitcoins have left an ATM, it is impossible to recover the funds; Bitcoin transactions are anonymous, irreversible, and virtually untraceable.

The transaction can be viewed on the blockchain, the decentralized, public record of all Bitcoin transactions. However, it is impossible to act on this information alone since transactions are not linked to identities, but to anonymous addresses. 

Prevention: Stay Alert

CRA-scammers use emotion and stress to cloud the judgement of their targets. The scammers will do everything in their power to keep the target on the phone, for as long as possible, to ensure they do not try to contact help. By pressuring the target into acting immediately, the scammers often get results quickly, before the police can become involved.

The CRA will never ask for payment in bitcoins. Should the caller demand payment in bitcoins, hang up immediately then contact the authorities. If you are unsure, tell the scammers on the phone you will call them back when you have some time. Do not provide the callers with any personal information.