Canadian Bankers Association - Fraud Prevention Tip

September 2014

There’s a Warrant for Your Arrest?!

Don’t Be Victimized by this Scam

Fake arrest warrant scams have been occurring across North America and they are a double whammy. Fraudsters target potential victims by phone and over the internet, using malware.

Over the phone

If the, “You’ve won a Caribbean cruise,” is the carrot of telephone scams, this scam is definitely the stick.

The phone rings and an authoritative voice on the end of the line informs you that there is a warrant for your arrest. And, if you do not pay the set fine, by giving out your credit card information or sending a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, the voice threatens that you could land yourself in court, jail or face deportation.

In fact, however, this is a nasty hoax intended to take your money. In Canada, the fraudsters behind these fake arrest warrant phone call have posed as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

It can sound so real, too. In one instance a woman was accused of committing crimes such as:

  1. Violating a federal banking regulation.
  2. Theft by deception.
  3. Breach of contract with the revenue agency in Canada.

Combine this with coercive, manipulative tactics, and it’s not hard to see how one could fall victim to this scam.

Here are the facts and some tips to help you avoid this fraud:

  • The CRA will not threaten arrest or deportation over the phone and neither will the RCMP.
  • The CRA does not request or accept gift cards as a payment.
  • The RCMP does not call to collect fine payments or tax payments.
  • If you receive a suspicious, threatening call from any organization, you can hang up, independently check the organization’s telephone number and call the organization to determine whether they have actually called you.

Over the Internet

An official looking pop-up window appears on your computer screen. The logo of the RCMP or another government body is prominently displayed on the page. Underneath, the text states that due to the fact that the police have encountered illegal activity (such as illicit pornography) on your computer, your computer has been locked and unless you pay a fine you will be prosecuted for these crimes.

This type of scam is caused by malicious software known as malware that you have inadvertently downloaded onto your computer.  This malware is aptly named “Ransomware” and is thought to infect your computer via phishing emails or pop-up ads.

There are two varieties of Ransomware. One has an image that pops up and blocks you from accessing your computer. The second kind encrypts files onto your computer’s hard drive and inhibits your access to these files.

What should you do if this happens to you?

  • Do not make the payment.
  • Be aware that the RCMP and other police services do not use Ransomware.
  • Contact a computer technician to see whether your data can be retrieved and your computer repaired.
  • In anticipation of this hijacking of your computer it’s important to take precautions and back up information on an external storage drive.
  • Never download from unknown or untrustworthy sources.
  • Protect your computer by installing anti-spam, anti-spyware and anti-virus software and making sure they are always current.
  • Consider installing a personal firewall to act as a barrier to viruses and other external attacks and regularly check for operating system patches and upgrades.

Both of these scary fake arrest warrant scams should be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1 (888) 495-8501 or

You can find out more information about this scam at the following links:

For more fraud prevention tips from the Canadian Bankers Association or to sign up to receive new tips by e-mail please visit the Fraud and Security section of the Canadian Bankers Association website.


The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 60 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness.

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