An international student in Peterborough was scammed out of $2,500 because of a fake tax.

The international student was hit by the scam in late September. The student got an automated called saying he needed to pay a $2,500 “Welcome to Canada” tax and would be arrested if he didn’t. The student then got a second call from someone impersonating a Peterborough police officer who gave the student a two hour deadline to give them the money requested or he’d be arrested. The student withdrew $2,500 and went to a local bitcoin machine and transferred the bitcoin money to the scammers. The scammer posing as a police officer said he would call the student back, but never did.

“It’s similar to many of the other phone scams that we’re seeing, expect it’s been tweaked to target international individuals who are living in Canada,” says Detective Constable Mark Reesor with Peterborough Police Service. The scammers are targeting people who are new to Canada and might not be aware how policing works here. He added that officers will never call to solicit money from you. “As an officer I never take money or cash or valuables from somebody as a form of payment,” he says.

“What we tell anybody who thinks they may be the target of a fraud or scam is to stop and think and then act,” Ressor says. He says that means you need to: stop and process what’s going on, pause and assess the situation and then decide what the best way to respond is.

Reesor says putting time pressure on someone is a tactic scammers use. It’s used because when people are put under time-sensitive pressure, they’re less likely to think things through, he says.

Put simply, Ressor says to hang up if you’re suspicious. He adds that if you think it might be a legitimate call, but aren’t sure, get a second opinion. “Never ever act without consulting somebody who you would trust,” Ressor says.

There have been no reports of the “Welcome to Canada” tax scam in Barry’s Barry or the Madawaska Valley.