Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Federal Court is investigating after its phone numbers were used in telephone scams.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The Federal Court of Canada has launched an internal investigation after its phone numbers were “spoofed” by telephone scammers, purporting to be calling from legitimate government agencies.

“We can confirm that there have been fraudulent phone calls spoofing Federal Court of Appeal, Federal Court and Courts Administration Service (CAS) phone numbers to disguise their calls,” communications manager Emily Keogh said in an e-mail Tuesday.

Victims who answer these calls are being told that they owe money, and are being asked to provide personal information including their social insurance number. Although such automated calls often claim to be from any number of agencies – commonly including the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada – the number that shows up on call display in these cases has been manipulated to appear as the Federal Court.

Story continues below advertisement

As a result, the court has been inundated with calls and complaints.

“The Courts Administration Service has initiated an internal investigation and is working with various stakeholders including law enforcement authorities in multiple jurisdictions to resolve this issue,” Ms. Keogh said. “Our primary concern at this point in time is making sure members of the public do not fall victim to these fraudulent phone calls.”

Although they are by no means new, these phone scams have grown seemingly more prevalent in recent months, with many Canadians complaining that their phones are ringing with these scam calls multiple times a day.

In 2018, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received more than 22,000 complaints specifically about the CRA scams. By the end of the year, they had recorded 1,492 victims, who were bilked out of $6.4-million.

“They’re lucrative, they’re making money,” said Jeff Thomson, a senior RCMP intelligence analyst with the CAFC. “They’re not going to go away.”

Calls from fraudsters sometimes appear as coming from numbers that can’t be dialled, such as 000 000-0000 or 111 111-111, or those that exceed 15 digits. On Dec. 19, Canadian telecom providers will be required to implement universal call-blocking software to ban calls from such “malformed” numbers.

While Mr. Thomson said this change “will have some impact on some of the various telemarketing scams that are out there and making our way through our telecom network,” it will not capture those cases where the fraudsters are “spoofing” legitimate numbers.

Story continues below advertisement

In a June speech at the Canadian Telecom Summit, Ian Scott, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said it receives more comments and complaints about spam and telemarketing calls than any other subject. Patricia Valladao, a CRTC spokesperson, said 40 per cent to 50 per cent of those complaints relate specifically to “spoofed” numbers.

The evolution of technology doesn’t just make it more difficult for regulators to block these calls, it also makes it more difficult for fraud investigators. “The ability for enforcement to trace or follow the money or communications is definitely more difficult,” Mr. Thomson said.

Typically, he said, these scams are run from overseas.

On Sunday, authorities in India announced that they had dismantled a call centre in New Delhi that had specifically been targeting Canadians by pretending to be calling from Service Canada. More than 30 people were arrested.

Mr. Thomson is hopeful that the bust will make a dent in the proliferation of calls. But he acknowledges that for investigators, it has become a game of whack-a-mole.

Ms. Valladao stresses that the telecom industry and the government have been aggressively working to find solutions to combat the issue.

Story continues below advertisement

One initiative in the works is a trace-back program that would allow networks to identify where a call is coming from. A report on a pilot project is expected to be available next year. Another initiative – known by its acronym “STIR/SHAKEN” – would specifically target “spoofing” by allowing telecom companies to validate whether an incoming call is legitimate.

While she is optimistic that the Dec. 19 changes will cut down on the number of spam calls that Canadians will receive, Ms. Valladao stresses the problem is complex. “It’s definitely a multilayer approach,” she said. “There’s no magic solution.”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies