Canadian Agencies and Operations
Dealing with Fraud
PhoneBusters is the central agency that collects information on
telemarketing complaints throughout Canada and disseminates this
information to the appropriate enforcement agency.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP) seek to curb organized telemarketing crime in Canada
through the joint operation of the PhoneBusters National Call Centre
(PNCC) which is supported by members of the Deceptive Telemarketing
It collects consumer complaint information through its 1-888-495-8501
Fax number: 1 (888) 654-9426
Its web site is at PhoneBusters e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
The mandate of PhoneBusters is to prosecute key individuals in Canada
involved in telemarketing fraud under the Criminal Code of Canada
and includes facilitating prosecution by United States agencies through
extradition, and by Industry Canada under the Competition Act.
Canshare is a joint project of Industry Canada and the provincial
governments to share consumer protection information.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is in the process of developing
a central web-based crime reporting center entitled RECOL ('Reporting
Economic Crime On-Line'). The objective is to offer citizens
a single point of entry, via the phone, fax or Internet, to lodge
a complaint concerning any frauds, traditional or Internet based,
and have it directed quickly and efficiently to the respective law
enforcement or investigative agency for action.
The proposal for the RECOL Center was initiated in the fall of 2000.
While the primary focus is to facilitate on-line reporting of crime,
the RECOL Center will also strive to educate people about fraud in
Canada, the importance of reporting it, and exposing the frauds by
type and perpetrator.
Solicitations of interest have been made with key partners in three
categories of potential partners that are grouped according to their
ability to share information with law enforcement as defined by privacy
legislation. The proposed model allows for the consumer or complainant,
to choose which agency(s) with whom they wish to have their complaint
filed. The potential complaint receiving agencies are classified
as being either in the private, regulatory or law enforcement sectors.
Implementation of the RECOL model will mean that for the first time
the private sector will have access to complaint data at the same
time as the police!
The initial phase of the RECOL Center will create an initial link
between the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police and the U.S. Federal
Bureau of Investigation. The immediate goal is to create a working
model, demonstrate some success, and, commence expansion to include
other partners as funding and commitment permits. The model is in
use now on a 'manual' basis through the auspices of the Phonebusters
National Call Center ('PNCC').
Numerous presentations at various national and international conferences
have now commenced that involve a panel of representatives from four
key agencies to demonstrate the integrated nature of RECOL - the
National Criminal Intelligence Service in the U.K., the FBI Internet
Fraud Complaint Center, the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets
and the RCMP Economic Crime Program.
The RCMP Economic Crime Branch is currently seeking support from
the G8 'Law Enforcement Working Group' asking for a general statement
of support and a commitment of G8 members to provide a contact within
each country with a view to establish a link into the RECOL and a
similar complaint distribution system in each country. Consumers
would then be in a position to direct those complaints that are of
a cross-border nature to appropriate investigative agencies on a
Inspector John Sliter
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Economic Crime Branch
The new PhoneBusters National Call Centre will continue with
its SeniorBusters program, established in 1997, in which 55
volunteers, all retirees, contact elderly victims across Canada and
the United States. They provide seniors with education on telemarketing
fraud, counsel repeat victims, ensure they have a place to turn for
assistance, and gather new information on schemes.
Canadian Eagle is a US / Canadian law enforcement partnership between
the RCMP and the FBI mandated to investigate organized crime groups
that are conducting fraudulent cross-border telemarketing activity.
Canadian Task Forces
Three interagency task forces have been established in Vancouver (Project
Emptor), Toronto (Greater Toronto Area Fraudulent Telemarketing
Consultative Committee), and Montreal (Project Colt).
Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Commercial Crime Section
4225 Dorchester Boulevard
Canada H3Z 1V5
Telephone: (514) 939-8304
Fax: (514) 939-8628
Laurier Quesnel, S/Sgt.
NCO i/c, Project COLT
In 1995, the RCMP created COLT, a joint investigative team made
up of members from the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec (Quebec provincial
police), the Montreal Urban Community Police Department, the FBI,
the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Post Office Department.
Since 1995, the team has returned $14 million to victims in North America.
A number of mail interception programs were set up to assist the team's
work to combat telemarketing fraud.
Industry Canada officials, and others, regularly communicate with
Federal Trade Commission officials in all jurisdictions and have
offered to partner, wherever possible.
A National Telemarketing Fraud Prosecutors Group, currently
chaired by British Columbia, has been established following a Federal
Provincial Territorial Heads of Prosecution meeting; information
is shared on an informal basis.
A web domain registered by Phonebusters to handle Internet fraud
complaints at a later date.
National Telemarketing Fraud Strategy
Comprised of representatives from the federal and provincial police
and regulatory bodies responsible in Canada for enforcement in this
area who meet to discuss policy issues, operational developments
and coordination concerns.
Deceptive Telemarketing Prevention Forum.
The Forum consists of members from government, the private sector
and not-for-profit organizations, which include: Visa Canada, MasterCard,
Bell Canada, Stentor, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons,
the Canadian Marketing Association, PhoneBusters (Ontario Provincial
Police), the RCMP, the Canadian Bankers Association,
Canada Post, the Solicitor General of Canada, the National Consumer
Measures Committee, the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus,
and the Volunteer Centre of Toronto. The Competition Bureau of Industry
Canada runs the program and acts as Forum Chair.
Findings of the Forum
Strategies should include an ongoing, long-term commitment by
agencies. Telemarketing fraud requires expertise on the part
of enforcement and regulatory agencies. Those involved must have
a knowledge of the offense, of offenders and their methods, and
of the agencies and powers available to respond. Expertise takes
time to develop and requires committing personnel and funding to
specialized units in law-enforcement and regulatory agencies. This
expertise, which permits faster and more effective reactions, also
Prevention. The most cost-effective means to control any
crime is to prevent it, since this avoids the costs both to victims
and society. Prevention is never completely effective, which makes
enforcement and punishment necessary, but educating potential victims
has considerable potential in preventing telemarketing fraud. If
used effectively, it also has the potential to deter offenders by
making the offense less profitable and more risky.
Competition Bureau of Industry
"Scams" documentary video on
In co-operation with private and public sector partners, the Bureau
participated in the production of a deceptive telemarketing documentary
video entitled "Scams", which was widely aired on prime-time
On March 11, 1999, the Competition Bureau's investigation into a
Montreal-based telemarketing firm resulted in the first prison terms
ever imposed by a Canadian court against deceptive telemarketers
under the Act. American Family Publishers, Publishers Central and
First Canadian Publishers bilked hundreds of vulnerable Canadians
out of their savings by promising valuable prizes if they purchased
various items at what turned out to be grossly inflated prices.
Warning Inserts with Pension Cheques
The Bureau issued warnings about telephone sales fraud, in the form
of inserts, which were sent to seniors along with their monthly old-age
The International Marketing Supervision
The Bureau continued its participation as a member of the International
Marketing Supervision Network (IMSN). The IMSN is
an informal alliance of 29 OECD Member countries
whose agencies deal with law enforcement issues related to deceptive
The mandate of the IMSN is to share information
about activities taking place in member countries that affect markets,
and to encourage countries to work together to resolve cross-border
deceptive marketing practices. In 1997, the IMSN focused
on deceptive telemarketing, misleading postal solicitations and the
international sale of lottery tickets.
Canada Post Mandate Review
Part of the submission focuses on requesting that CPC be
given greater powers to detect and dissuade use of the Canadian postal
service for spreading deceptive postal solicitations.
OCA continues to publish the Consumer Quarterly.
This publication has a wide distribution, and in 1997 it covered
the topics: Consumers and the Internet, Electronic Banking, Scams
Without Frontiers — New Challenges for Consumer Protection,
and Why are Personal Bankruptcies Rising? and the quarterly report, Credit
Consumer Connection is OCA's one-stop Internet site for consumer
information. It can be found on Industry Canada's business web site, Competition
Bureau of Industry Canada.