The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has charged one individual, following an investigation into an international telephone scam involving seniors.
In December 2021, the RCMP Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Transnational Serious and Organized Crime (TSOC) unit received information from the RCMP in Prince Edward Island that prompted an investigation into phone scams targeting elderly people. The investigation began when an elderly Canadian was scammed out of over $20,000. The scammers were posing as representatives from “Readers Digest” or “Publishers Clearing House” telling “winners” they had won a car or a cash prize, but would have to pay a small fee in order to cover taxes, legal fees or delivery fees.
The team also investigated the use of a “money mule”. Money mules are conduits, who facilitate the flow of a victim’s funds to a criminal organization, and assists in the money laundering process for these scams. The money goes from the “money mule” in Canada and is then filtered to various international locations (e.g. Jamaica, India, etc.). In this instance the victim’s money was sent to an account in Jamaica.
Phylecca Smith (31), a non-resident currently residing in Toronto, has been charged with the following:
- Fraud over $5,000, contrary to Section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code;
- Possession of Proceeds of Crime, contrary to Section 354 of the Criminal Code;
- Laundering of the Proceeds of Crime, contrary to Section 462.31 of the Criminal Code.
A bail hearing was held on July 27th at the College Park court house in Toronto. Smith was released by the courts, but remained in custody on an immigration hold by CBSA due to her non-status in Canada.
“Economic and financial crimes threaten the Canadian economy, thereby, taking funds away from hard-working Canadians. The RCMP is committed to protecting Canada’s financial integrity, especially when citizens are targeted by criminal organizations.”
– Superintendent Ann Koenig, District Commander, Greater Toronto Area – Transnational Serious and Organized Crime.
Beware of someone asking for your personal or banking information, or you receive a message about suspicious tax claims, do not click on a link to submit information. Do not respond or act on any suspicious requests. Report the activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at www.antifraudcentre.ca, or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501. If someone is threatening you or your family, contact your local police.