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Woman charged in international phone scam targeting seniors: RCMP

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck. DD

A woman living in Toronto has been charged in connection with an international phone scam involving seniors, police say.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in December, officers received information and launched an investigation into phone scams targeting elderly people.

“The investigation began when an elderly Canadian was scammed out of over $20,000,” the RCMP said in a news release.

Police said the scammers were allegedly posing as representatives from “Readers Digest” or “Publishers Clearing House” telling “winners” they have won a car or a cash prize.

Read more: Phone scams against seniors on the rise, says Crime Stoppers

However, the suspects said the “winners” would have to pay a small fee in order to cover taxes, legal fees or delivery fees.

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Police said investigators also looked into the use of a “money mule.”

“Money mules are conduits, who facilitate the flow of a victim’s funds to a criminal organization, and assists in the money laundering process for these scams,” the release read. “The money goes from the ‘money mule’ in Canada and is then filtered to various international locations (i.e. Jamaica, India, etc.).”

Police said in this case the victim’s money was sent to an account in Jamaica.

According to police, 31-year-old Phylecca Smith, a non-resident living in Toronto was arrested.

She has been charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of the proceeds of crime and laundering of the proceeds of crime.

Officers said she was held for a bail hearing on July 27, and was released by the courts but remained in custody on an immigration hold by CBSA due to her non-status in Canada.

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