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RCMP charge 2 in CRA phone scam which resulted in Canadians losing $16.4M since 2014

RCMP announce arrests in CRA scam
WATCH ABOVE: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested and charged a husband and wife in Brampton in connection with the well-known Canada Revenue Agency phone scam. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have been called by India-based telemarketers and told to pay money or be arrested. Sean O’Shea reports.

The RCMP say they have charged two people in connection to multiple transnational scams, including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) telephone scam, which investigators said resulted in over $16.8 million in victim losses between 2014 and 2019.

Project Octavia was launched in October 2018 by the RCMP Greater Toronto Area Financial Crime section which focused on the telephone tax scam.

READ MORE: Canadian consumers stung by cellphone porting scam: ‘It’s the creepiest thing’

Investigators said the scam occurs over the phone, by email or by text messages. A caller or sender, commonly from India, according to police, poses as a CRA agent and attempts to either steal personal information or intimidate a person into giving them money.

“Too many of our fellow Canadians have fallen victim to the scam and have unfortunately lost their hard earned dough,” Supt. Peter Payne said on Friday.

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“Plenty more have been affected and not to mention bothered and harassed,” he continued. “It’s true this incessant trickery has pervaded too long but we continue to fight back and we’re making progress.”

Payne said the scam operates out of India and began to target Canadians in 2014. He said despite numerous raids on illegal call centres in India, the scam continues to persist.

RCMP announce arrests, Canada-wide warrant in CRA scam
RCMP announce arrests, Canada-wide warrant in CRA scam

The telephone scam, plus other scams including the Bank Investigator and Tech Support scams have cumulatively taken over $30 million dollars from Canadian pockets.

The RCMP said it has discovered many “money mules” operating in Canada who help to launder the funds obtained through the scam.

Insp. Jim Ogden said on Wednesday, Project Octavia investigators charged Gurinderpreet Dhaliwal, 37, and 36-year-old Inderpreet Dhaliwal, both from Brampton.

They both face one count of fraud over $5,000, one count of laundering of the proceeds of crime and one count of property obtained by crime.

READ MORE: Police warning of new slate of phone scams

RCMP say they have taken ‘big step’ forward with CRA scam investigation arrests
RCMP say they have taken ‘big step’ forward with CRA scam investigation arrests

Both are set to appear in a Brampton court on March 2.

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In addition to those charges, investigators also issued a Canada-wide warrant for 26-year-old Shantanu Manik, who is a foreign national believed to be in India.

Ogden said additional arrests could occur in the near future.

“We have disrupted the necessary flow of money from Canada to India which will have a big impact on the operation and the bottom line of the scammers,” he said.

“We know that the efforts of the RCMP has had an impact.”

Ogden said in 2018, reported financial loses were $6.4 million but since the introduction of Project Octavia in October 2018, along with the take down of 39 call centres in India and enforcement activities and awareness campaigns, reported losses dipped to $1.4 million in 2019.

RCMP say they are continuing CRA scam investigation
RCMP say they are continuing CRA scam investigation
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam.
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam. Enzo Armini/Global News
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam.
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam. Enzo Armini/Global News
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam.
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam. Enzo Armini/Global News
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam.
The RCMP said it has made two arrests in connection with the CRA phone scam. Enzo Armini/Global News