December 3, 2020
Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Financial Crime Section, Toronto West Detachment (TWD) in Milton, Ontario, have charged another individual in connection with transnational telephone frauds, including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) telephone scam, the Bank investigator scam, and the Tech support scam.
To address the victimization of Canadians, in October of 2018, the RCMP GTA Financial Crime Section commenced an investigation, named Project OCTAVIA. The focus of the investigation was to combat the CRA telephone tax schemes and other interrelated frauds through public awareness, disruption, and enforcement. These telephone fraudsters who are operating outside of Canada, have been targeting the Canadian public since 2014. Despite a number of police raids on illegal call centres in India, and arrests in Canada, these fraudsters continue to change their façade and target Canadians.
Cumulatively between 2014 and 2020, the CRA scam alone has resulted in reported victim losses totaling over $18.5 million. As of October 1, 2020, between the CRA, the Bank investigator and Tech support scams, the total reported victim losses are over $34 million. During this investigation, RCMP investigators uncovered “money mules/money mule managers”, and money launderers operating within Canada and overseas. To date, nine (9) individuals have been charged in relation to Project OCTAVIA.
Charged is Thomas Pao (age 25) of Mississauga, Ontario with:
- Fraud over $5,000, contrary to the Criminal Code;
- Possession of proceeds of crime, contrary to the Criminal Code;
- Laundering of the proceeds of crime, contrary to the Criminal Code.
A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for Mr. Pao, who is currently believed to be in China.
“Fraud, like violent crime, has devastating consequences on its victims. Those whose conscience does not deter them from preying on the vulnerable, will be held accountable by the rule of law,” said Staff Sergeant Ken Derakhshan, acting Officer in Charge of the GTA Financial Crime Section in Milton. “The RCMP will continue to investigate those who participate in trans-national criminal organizations to defraud Canadians. Irrespective of their position within the criminal hierarchy, any person who intentionally commits these crimes and benefits from their ill-gotten gains, is liable to arrest, charges and prosecution.”
If someone on the phone is asking for your personal or banking information, hang up and report the activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If the caller is threatening you or your family, hang up and contact your local police. If you receive an e-mail or text message making suspicious tax claims and urging you to click on a link to submit information, don’t interact and report the occurrence to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, through its website at www.antifraudcentre.ca, or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501.