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'I'm crying with the bank': Ontario woman loses $86K to CRA scam

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An Ontario woman is out $86,000 after receiving a call from a fraudster claiming to be a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) investigator. They told her that her bank accounts were involved in a money laundering operation.

"He said he was from the investigation department at the CRA, and it is a 24-hour notice from a government body, and we are going to do an investigation on you," said Anjira, who CTV News agreed to identify only by first name.

When the call came in early March, Anjira said they knew her name and the two banks she had accounts with, so she assumed he was who he claimed to be.

During that call, Anjira said she was told her bank accounts were being used in a money laundering operation and that she must cooperate with the investigation, as the RCMP is also involved, or have the money stolen.

She said she was then advised to withdraw money from her bank accounts and deposit it through a Bitcoin machine, where it would remain in an account for safekeeping until the investigation was over.

"I thought they were helping me right, to freeze my accounts, that they would want to protect me," said Anjira.

She made multiple withdrawals in about $5,000 increments, travelling via taxi to and from the bank branches and the Bitcoin machine. In three days, she drained $86,000 from her bank accounts and lines of credit.

"They told me to go to go inside the bank and don't tell the bank person anything, as you are part of a high-level investigation," said Anjira.

Though she was convinced she was helping the Canadian government with its investigation, her husband and friends said something didn't seem right, adding she was likely getting scammed.

Anjira said her husband confronted the caller on the phone and said, "'You are a big scammer. Toronto police are coming for you,' and he hung up the phone."

Paul Murphy, a senior communications advisor with the CRA, said the tax agency would never use threatening or aggressive language. Murphy said anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to be with the CRA should call the agency directly to confirm that the individual is legitimate.

"You can always hang up and contact us through our inquiries line and say that, 'Someone called me, and can you verify who they are?'" said Murphy.

Anjira said losing that money has been devastating for her and her family, and since it was taken out of her credit lines, she needs to pay it back.

"I'm crying with the bank. I'm crying with other things," said Anjira.

So far, she has filed a police report and contacted her banks about what happened, but Anjira is still on the hook for the missing funds, prompting her to warn others.

"The person who called me he knew my name, he knew how many accounts I had, he gave me the information that way," said Anjira.

Also be careful if you get texts or e-mails claiming to be from CRA saying your tax refund is ready. Don't click on links in these messages as it's a scam to try and get your personal information.

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