It’s Not an Emergency or Canada Revenue Agency…It’s a Scam!

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) want you to confirm who you’re dealing with before sending any money anywhere for any reason.

As part of the annual Fraud Prevention Month awareness campaign, the Emergency Scam and the more recent Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and other agency-related extortion threats have increased the financial losses sustained by unsuspecting victims. In 2015, the Emergency (or Grandparent) Scam claimed 474 victims in Canada lost nearly $2.5 million from more than 1,100 complaints. The CRA fraud drew 15,091 complaints, resulting in 751 identified victims who lost a combined $2.49 million. Police admit 95 percent of the crimes go unreported.

In the typical Emergency Scam, the victim will receive a frantic phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or loved one. The caller will explain that they are involved in some sort of mishap or are having trouble returning from a foreign country and need money ‘right away’.  In the CRA scam, the criminals extort money from their victims by telephone, mail, text message or email, a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number. Fraudsters impersonate the real CRA by telephone or by email. Fraudsters are either phishing for your identification or asking that outstanding taxes be paid by a money service business or by pre-paid debit/credit cards. They may insist that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. Other communications urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website where the taxpayer is then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information. These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications nor click on any of the links provided.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Urgency– The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.
  • Fear– The scammer plays on the victim’s emotions by generating a sense of fear. For instance they may say, “I am scared and I need help from you.”
  • Secrecy– The scammer pleads with the victim not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, “Please don’t tell Dad or Mom, they would be so mad.”
  • Request for Money Transfer– Money is usually requested to be sent by a money transfer company such as Money Gram, Western Union or even through your own bank institution.

To avoid becoming a victim, police advise you to first check with another family member or trusted friend to verify the information BEFORE sending money or providing credit card information by phone or e-mail.

If you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of the Emergency Scam or someone posing as a Canada Revenue Agency official, hang up and contact your local police service. You can also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at

“Recognize, Reject and Report Fraud”


“Increasing awareness of the Emergency or CRA fraud scams is the first step toward reducing their devastating impact. Reporting the scam then allows police an opportunity to warn other people and minimize the chances of causing further harm to unsuspecting people.”

– A/Deputy Commissioner F. (Fred) BERTUCCA,
OPP Investigations and Organized Crime Command

“Criminals rely on your natural urges to want to act quickly to help your loved ones in an emergency or respond to a well-respected government agency. Those urges need to be balanced with skepticism and common sense. Check the person’s identity and their story…and never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust.”

– Detective Insp. Mike BICKERTON, Director – OPP Anti-Rackets Branch


During the month of March, the OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre partners — the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Competition Bureau of Canada –, are joining police services across the country to help prevent all Canadians from becoming victims of fraud. The OPP is posting tips and links to various resources online to help the public recognize, reject and report fraud on social media by using the hashtags #FPM2016 #DontBeAVictim and #OPPtips.

OPP YouTube Emergency Scam video (English)

OPP YouTube Emergency Scam video (French)

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Competition Bureau of Canada

The Little Black Book of Scams

MEDIA NOTE: This is the first of five weekly, topic-specific OPP media releases on various criminal activities as part of Fraud Prevention Month. Next week’s topic is the Romance Scam.

SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

Fredericton, N.B. security company uncovers massive online fraud

CBC News

A Fredericton, N.B.-based online security company has uncovered a multi-million dollar scheme to bilk companies that advertise online through Google and Twitter.

The University of New Brunswick-based Sentrant Security Inc. discovered more than 200 apps in the Google Play store that were running invisible ads that were charged back to legitimate online advertisers.

“The scheme involves over 20 shell companies, 247 apps, affecting over 500,000 installs on consumers’ Android devices,” said a statement from Sentrant.

Allen Dillon, the chief executive officer of Sentrant Security, says this kind of fraud is pervasive in the $170-billion industry.

“They’re conducting a fraud by producing click fraud or false traffic … into the digital advertising system,” he said.

Allen Dillon, CEO of Sentrant Security Inc., says online fraud is a growing problem around the world. (CBC)

In this case, the cost of the scam is estimated at about $250,000 per day, said Dillon, but that’s just on one digital platform.

“This same scam was also running on other open ad exchanges in the world, other tech providers similar to that of Twitter, so at the end of the day, there was a lot more than just $250,000 per day just on this one ad scam.”

Sentrant conducted a study in June of 2015 and discovered 42.3 per cent of all digital advertising led to some sort of fraud, Dillon said.

“The problem is significant in that the money ends up in the hands of bad actors, organized crime and other criminal types,” he said.

Dillon said the problem is expected to get worse over the next few years and advertisers aren’t the only victims.

“Society, in general, [pays] because the advertisers, unfortunately, have to recover the losses through some means, so that will translate into fees to the public.”

Aviva Canada works with police to fight fraud and lay charges in false theft report cases

Read more

Canada: Woman accused of $5.5M fraud pleads guilty


A Richmond Hill woman accused of fleecing her employer out of almost $5.5 million before bolting to Europe for months of lavish living has admitted her guilt.

Natalia Pouchkina pleaded guilty Friday in a Newmarket courthouse to fraud over $5,000.

The 55-year-old senior manager for Crane Payment Solutions in Vaughan allegedly diverted money from her employer between March 2014 and May 2015.

She was arrested on Sept. 15 by Spanish police outside the posh resort city of Malaga.

“She was living a lavish lifestyle way beyond her means as a manager,” said York Regional Police Det. Fred Kerr, one of two officers who escorted Pouchkina home from Madrid.

The divorced mother allegedly doled out cash and expensive gifts, buying herself a $140,000 Mercedes and another for her Quebec university student daughter, sources told the Toronto Sun.

Pouchkina waived extradition proceedings in October because she couldn’t bear the Spanish jail diet of beans and rice. In December, she lost her bid for freedom at an unsuccessful bail hearing.

Her former employer hired prominent Toronto law and accounting firms plus a respected private investigation agency to track its missing cash.

European courts have frozen Pouchkina’s property, cars and bank accounts. Her banking documents have been turned over to European lawyers working on behalf of the Toronto law firm, sources said.

An agreed statement of facts is expected to be read in court on April 4 at her sentencing hearing.

Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame Reveals 2015 Inductees

By Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Source: Insurance Journal

Blown up houses, staged wrecks and bogus spine surgeries were among the damage inflicted by nine convicted scammers newly selected to the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame.

They were enshrined by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The Hall of Shame recognizes the year’s most extreme insurance schemers. All were convicted or had other legal closure in 2015.

True-life cases reveal insurance fraud’s high human costs. At least $80 billion is stolen a year. Innocent people are traumatized, injured and lose their savings. Welcome to the crime warp:

Burning desire. Financially strapped Mark Leonard botched an insurance arson of his Indianapolis home. A leaking gas line blew up the place, killed two next-door neighbors and leveled much of the neighborhood.

Puppy plot. Nearly 30 puppies cringed in their cages as Gloria Lee’s henchman spread gasoline around her Las Vegas pet shop for an insurance arson. Incredibly, Lee’s own store security cameras filmed her executing this scheme. The dogs were saved.

Dollars & dents. One of America’s biggest-ever staged crash rings stole money in the New York City area. Crash kingpin Mikhail Zemlyansky churned out $279 million in false injury claims from setup wrecks. He bribed doctors to make false diagnoses.

Spineless spinal con. Dr. Aria Sabit sliced open and fused spines of healthy patients to try and steal $32 million of insurance money. Some of the Detroit-area man’s patients were disfigured and permanently injured.

Unsettling settlements. Manhattan attorney Steven Krawitz stole $1.9 million of insurance settlements from nearly 50 clients. Most received no money; some were destitute. Krawitz even stole from a 96-year-old great-grandmother.

Unhealthy health plans. At least 12,000 consumers bought fake health coverage William Worthy sold throughout the U.S. in a $14-million theft. Many of the South Carolina man’s victims had thousands of dollars in unpaid hospital bills.

Police raid. NYPD officer Jose Urena became lawless. He kept buying Mercedes he couldn’t afford. He then burned, vandalized or crashed them for false insurance claims — and to escape car payments.

Lifeless life plot. Debt-ridden Jose Lantigua bribed corrupt officials to declare he’d died and was cremated in Venezuela. The Jacksonville, Fla. man tried to steal more than $9 million in life insurance. Except Lantigua looked nothing like the U.S. man whose identity he stole.

Deadly life insurance. Pierre Collins beat his son Barway to death, duct-taped his body and threw him into a Minneapolis river for a mere $50,000 in life insurance.

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

The man’s insurance claim was denied, as Aviva believed the man had the financial motive to commit arson.

Read more

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