International student in Peterborough victim of new phone scam

Student paid $2,500 to scammer demanding payment of a fake 'Welcome to Canada' tax

Phone scam

The Peterborough Police Service is warning residents about a new scam circulating in the area that targets international post-secondary students into paying a fake “Welcome to Canada” tax.

In late September, an international student living in Peterborough received an automated phone call advising he needed to pay a “Welcome to Canada Tax.” A person then came onto the call and told the student there is a Canadian law saying he had to pay a $2,500 tax for coming into the county and, if he did not pay the tax, he would be arrested.

The student then received a second call from someone impersonating a Peterborough police officer who told the student he had two hours to pay the tax or be arrested. The student provided the fake officer with his Social Insurance Number.

The student then withdrew the $2,500 from his bank account and went to a local bitcoin machine in Peterborough where he entered the QR code he was given and transferred the money to the scammers.

The phony officer told the student he would call back, but the student did not receive any further phone calls.

Police are reminding international students that this phone call is a scam, and not to respond to the caller or transfer any money to persons they do not know.

It is also important not to provide any personal or banking information over the phone without first verifying the caller’s identity.

When in doubt, hang up and call a trusted family member, friend, staff at your school, or call the police.

The Peterborough Police Service continues to partner with both post-secondary institutions and local school boards in Peterborough, along with the New Canadians Centre, to provide education and awareness to students and new residents.

If you have been the victim of a scam (meaning you have handed over money), report the incident to the Peterborough Police Service at 705-876-1122 or online at

To report receiving a scam phone call or message, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit