– urges public to demand ID; payments to only be made at HQ, offices– says several persons conned in last few weeksBy Jarryl BryanBogus Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) ‘agents’ have recently fleeced a business of almost half a million dollars in liquor and cash, and the tax agency is warning the public that this is no isolated incident.According to the GRA in a notice, there have been several instances of these scams in the past few weeks, and these reports have come from the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), East Bank of Demerara (EBD), and West Coast of Demerara (WCD).“The general public is advised to be on the lookout for persons posing as GuyanaGRA is urging the public to make all payments at its Camp Street headquarters, or at regional officesRevenue Authority officers who are visiting shops and other business premises to conduct ‘enforcement checks.’ Several of these reported acts have occurred in recent weeks,” GRA warned.The tax collection agency is urging the public to request proof of identification from any purported GRA officer who shows up at any business place, and has reminded the public that all GRA staff members are required to carry identification cards while performing their duties.“Note the identification number and name of any individual claiming to be from the GRA,” the authority advised. “Verify the legitimacy of the exercise by calling 227-6060 extension numbers 3201-3208 or 4601.”The tax authority went on to remind that officers of the GRA are not authorised to collect monies from taxpayers, since all payments are to be made to the cashiers at the GRA regional offices and at its headquarters.”The scamIn November of last year, the Customs, Excise and Trade Operations (CE&TO) of the GRA made mandatory the application of excise stamps on imported alcohol (excluding beer) and tobacco products. This was in collaboration with the Canadian Bank Note (CBN).As such, importers, businesses and persons selling alcohol and tobacco products are expected to have these stamps on their products, to verify that the items were legally imported into Guyana.The aforementioned scam was perpetrated on a 67-year-old caretaker of AmazonAn example of alcohol with the Excise stamp affixedDelight, located at Regent and Oronoque Streets, Georgetown. He allegedly was scammed of almost $300,000 in imported liquor and cash by two men pretending to be officials of the GRA.According to ‘Aunty Seeta’, the men turned up at the business place at about 10:00h, fully dressed and carrying badges with the GRA logo. “They said GRA sent them to seize the imported liquor because she didn’t have their [GRA] stamp on it,” she explained. According to “Seeta”, she was ordered to turn over $150,000 in imported liquor— namely, tequila, whiskey, Black Hennessy, Ciroc, Grey Goose, Apple Smirnoff and Vanilla Smirnoff. Moreover, the men advised her that if she did not want to face criminal charges, she should pay them $125,000. The woman said she complied.However, the distraught woman said that after the men had left, she began to feel sceptical about the way in which the men operated. As such, she contacted the GRA office on Wednesday and reported the matter.She was then informed that the entity did not order the seizure of items belonging to the establishment. At this point, that the pensioner realised she had been conned.“I called 911 and they took a statement from me, and the person on the other end of the line told me to report the matter to the Alberttown Police Station,” the woman explained.The woman has been taking care of the business for the past 14 years, and according to her, this is the first time she has been conned. Both the GRA and the Guyana Police Force have since launched an investigation into the matter.