Man arrested in Burnaby in connection with nationwide phone scams
Published Friday, September 20, 2019 4:13PM PDT Last Updated Friday, September 20, 2019 4:47PM PDT
Mounties say they have arrested a person in the Lower Mainland in connection with a series of nationwide telephone scams.
Police have not released the name of the person they arrested, but Cpl. Daniel Michaud of the RCMP's Federal Serious and Organized Crime section told CTV News Vancouver the individual is a man in his late 20s.
The man is in Canada on a work visa, police said. Investigators say they are working with the Canada Border Services Agency to determine the arrested person's "admissibility" in Canada.
The scams in question are believed to be originating from illegal call centres in India, police said.
Investigators determined that a group of individuals operated money service businesses in the Lower Mainland, which police believe were used to launder money illegally obtained through the scams.
Charges have not yet been laid against the arrested man, which is why police have chosen not to identify him yet, Michaud said. He said the specific charges will depend on the ongoing investigation and what police believe can be proven in court, adding that the charges will be fraud-related.
Michaud said the arrest was made in Burnaby in early July. RCMP are releasing details about it now because phone scams are still an ongoing issue in Canada, and the public should remain vigilant about them, he said.
In a release about the arrest, police listed three scams they described as "current and more common."
Michaud said the arrested man was part of a criminal organization that was involved in scams of the types mentioned in the release. Michaud declined to say whether the man was making the calls himself.
"We're not prepared to say what the individual's role was," Michaud said. "That organization was involved in all those scams."
One of the scams involves a phone call purported to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, which tells the victim they have been audited and still owe money from a previous tax year. Someone impersonating a police officer tells the victim they will be arrested if they fail to pay, then asks the victim to send money to the suspect's mailing address, purchase gift cards or disclose personal information.
A second scam involves a phone call from someone pretending to be alerting the victim of fraudulent activity in their bank account. When the victim agrees to cooperate with a "police investigation," they are transferred to another person impersonating an RCMP officer. This second person convinces the victim to allow "police" to access their online bank account. The fraudulent officer then deposits what looks like a large sum of money, asking the victim to withdraw it and send it, in cash or gift cards, to a mailing address.
The third scam police described in their release about the arrest involves a phone call from a computer virus software company purporting to be going out of business. The caller claims the company owes the victim a refund and asks for remote access to their computer for the purpose of making a direct payment into their online bank account. The caller makes an "overpayment" and directs the victim to send the difference in cash to a mailing address.
The RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime section led the investigation, with help from the GTA-Financial Crime Section in Ontario and the Burnaby RCMP detachment.
The FSOC section is responsible for investigating serious Criminal Code offences related to money laundering and proceeds from crime that are regional, national or international in nature and "pose a genuine threat to economic stability in Canada and the integrity of Canada's economy," according to the release.