Arrested woman alleged to have helped ‘CRA’ scammers in India

MILTON – A Scarborough woman faces fraud and other charges in connection with an RCMP investigation into individuals suspected of being in cahoots with those notorious India-based telephone scammers.

The federal police force says it has uncovered “money mules/money mule managers” operating in Canada who assist with the laundering of funds obtained by the transnational telephone fraudsters, who infamously pose as Canada Revenue Agency employees or, in related scams, as bank investigators or tech support.

The RCMP reports the arrest of 34-year-old Rong Qing Chen (also known as Rita Chen) of Scarborough on charges of fraud over $5,000, possession of proceeds of crime and laundering of the proceeds of crime. The accused was released on an undertaking and is due to appear April 4 at the Scarborough Courthouse.

Further arrests are possible as officers continue to investigate as part of ongoing “Project Octavia” — set up in October 2018 to combat the CRA telephone tax scam through public awareness, disruption and enforcement.

The scammers claim to be CRA or RCMP officials and then intimidate victims into paying non-existent fines or taxes. The CRA scam still operates out of India and has been targeting the Canadian public since 2014. The ploy has evolved to include calls falsely made on behalf of other federal government agencies.

Despite a number of police raids on illegal call centres in India, the scam continues to victimize Canadians, with an estimated $17-million lost to the crooks between 2014 and 2019. Total reported victim losses exceed $30 million dollars when the ‘bank investigator’ and ‘tech support’ scams are added to the tally.

Because the fraudsters also play on fear by threatening the arrest of their intended victims, Canadians are “becoming wary or suspicious even when CRA is attempting legitimate contact,” say the RCMP.

Below, a telephone interaction with the CRA scammers, source of perhaps the most hated calls received by Canadians.

“This investigation demonstrates how the RCMP works to ensure that Canadians can maintain confidence
in their economy and in their government agencies. The RCMP and our many partners will continue to
work together to dismantle these organizations,” said Inspector Jim Ogden, Officer in Charge of the GTA Financial Crime Section, in Milton. “Project OCTAVIA shows how the efforts of law enforcement, Federal government agencies, and private sector partnerships at a local, national, and international level, can work in concert to effectively combat crime.”

Police advise that if someone on the phone asks 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 or someone you trust.

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.

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