BY PHILIPPE CARON
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) released updates yesterday on their investigation into CRA scams in India.
Officers explained to the media on Nov. 7 where the research into the email and phone scams affecting millions of Canadians stands.
There have been 13,062 reported victims of the scam this year as of October, totalling more than $15 million.
Although the scam artists are calling and emailing all Canadians, the RCMP has learned that the CRA scammers are mainly targetting not only the elderly, but also new Canadians.
It’s almost impossible to determine how many people are being affected by the calls and emails demanding money because victims become embarrassed once they realize that they bought into the scam.
The RCMP is working toward tracking their telephone calls and eliminating them with the help of Bell and Rogers. “We do have discussions underway with the telephone companies but it’s quite a challenge to determine what call is a scam,” says Sgt. Guy Paul Larocque of the RCMP.
The problem lies in how the phone numbers just appear as Canadians numbers. Once a number gets reported and is disabled the imposters will simply get another number in the matter of minutes, making it almost impossible to stop.
The RCMP explained that right now they cannot promise that any of the money collected by the scammers can or will be returned. Since 2014, The RCMP has received more than 74,000 complaints and more than 4,000 Canadians have been victimized for a total of $15.2 million lost. They have also not yet discovered where the money is going.
They have moved to making sure Canadians are more educated and aware of what is going on so that they can protect themselves.
Although one of the main targets are new Canadians, retired RCMP manager Pete Payne said: “Right now information is only available in English and French, but there are other languages we will probably look at.”
So far, information on the scams is only provided in English and French, which might be a problem for new Canadians. It was stated that this is one of the major concerns for awareness and that they will be addressing this going forward to help with prevention.
The Sheridan Sun also spoke with David Common, CBC Marketplace reporter who is currently following the story. Common explained how the people in the positions who are making these calls are using a Canadian voice over internet protocol (VOIP) system which changes their phone number every 12 hours, allowing them to evade being called back and ultimately tracked down. Common also said “We identified 28 different Canadian VOIP providers that probably have no idea that they are a part of this.”
Aside from targeting individuals, they are focusing their attack on large businesses that may just disregard the validity of the supposed CRA representatives. Larger businesses are more inclined to pay immediately so they do not have to deal with the CRA.
In the last two weeks, the RCMP have raided two call centres in Mumbai making arrests but they have yet to hit the bulk of the call centres. The arrests being made are only of the small kind, because fraudsters in India are already putting the scam agents in call centres of 10-15 people, reducing their risk of exposure and loss of employees.
“In the first 24 hours for the first raid story it had 88,5000 page views, and more than 1 million minutes spent reading,” says Common.
This is showing that Canadians are frustrated, whether it be annoyed or victimized about the issue and that any new information is important to them.
Although the Canadian public does not want to continue to hear phone calls and see emails from the so-called CRA, they want to know what is happening with it, how to prevent it, and how to help others be aware of the repercussions.