Competition Bureau Canada

Competition Bureau Canada

May 07, 2009 14:36 ET

Competition Bureau Canada: Fraudulent Cheque Schemes Taken Down by Law Enforcement Task Force

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 7, 2009) - The Competition Bureau announced today that charges have been laid under the Criminal Code against eight individuals for their alleged involvement in a variety of fraudulent cheque schemes, following an investigation by the Toronto Strategic Partnership, a multi-agency task force.

"This initiative will significantly disrupt counterfeit cheque scams based in the Greater Toronto Area that prey on vulnerable consumers in these hard economic times," said Andrea Rosen, Deputy Commissioner of Competition, Fair Business Practices Branch. "Law enforcement agencies are ramping up efforts to work together on large-scale investigations involving greater numbers of fraud artists."

The five-month investigation focused on two types of mass-marketing fraud. In the first scheme, the suspects sent forged letters, purportedly from foreign lottery agencies, giving notification of lottery winnings and enclosing a counterfeit cheque. The victims were instructed to deposit the cheque and wire a portion of the funds back to the suspects using a wire transfer service.

In the second scheme, suspects pretended to be marketing companies looking for secret or mystery shoppers. The victims were sent a counterfeit cheque with instructions to deposit the cheque and withdraw some funds to make a retail purchase. Victims were then asked to complete a marketing survey on the retail service and wire the balance of the funds using a wire transfer service.

Both schemes targeted hundreds of individuals, businesses and financial institutions in the United States. In these cases, victims were notified by their financial institutions that the cheques were fraudulent and the victims were liable for the full amount. To date, the total face value of counterfeit cheques identified exceeds $5,000,000.

The investigation culminated in a series of raids on residences, vehicles and money service businesses targeting individuals operating in the Greater Toronto Area. The suspects were charged with fraud over $5,000 under the Criminal Code.

The Toronto Strategic Partnership consists of the Competition Bureau, the Toronto Police Service Mass Marketing Fraud Unit, the OPP Anti-Rackets Squad, the RCMP-GTA Commercial Crime Section, the Ontario Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services, the Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre (PhoneBusters), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.K. Office of Fair Trading. The partnership was formed to combat cross-border fraudulent mass marketing.

The Partnership investigation was assisted by the Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police and Canada Post.

The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

Contact Information

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