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 Prevention Forum.
It collects consumer complaint information through its 1-888-495-8501 toll-free number.
Fax number: 1 (888) 654-9426
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 global basis.
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 Fraud 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 Group (NTFG)
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 reduces costs.
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 Canada
"Scams" documentary video on deceptive telemarketing
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 television.
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 pension cheques.
The International Marketing Supervision Network (IMSN)
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 marketing practices.
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 Card Costs
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.