TORONTO, May 26, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, investigators with the York Regional Police Organized Crime and Intelligence Services laid charges related to organized-crime for violent property damage, fraud and drug trafficking, as part of an ongoing joint-forces investigation into the tow truck industry, known as Project Platinum. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is proud to assist and support this ongoing investigation.
“IBC applauds the efforts of all partners involved in this joint-forces investigation, Project Platinum, that resulted in criminal charges being laid,” said Bryan Gast, National Director, Investigative Services, IBC. “Insurance fraud is a safety issue for consumers. Lives can be put at risk as a result of these criminal actions. Insurance fraud costs Canadians in added insurance premiums, and strains our already burdened health care, emergency services and court systems.”
This ongoing investigation has identified several organized crime groups working within the towing industry who have used violence and property damage to gain control and territory within the industry. A number of towing companies have been involved in defrauding insurance companies, using vehicles involved in collisions and staged collisions. These towing companies partnered with auto repair shops, physiotherapy clinics, as well as car and truck rental companies, to carry out this fraud.
Insurance companies, through the auto insurance industry’s dedicated Investigation Coordination and Support Service (consisting of nine Insurer Lead Investigators, each from an IBC member company), worked to mitigate the costs of this fraud, including additional costs to the consumer, and actively pursued legal action against various towing companies.
For more information on the investigation, visit York Regional Police.
IBC and its members work tirelessly to mitigate the risk and cost of insurance fraud. Insurance companies pursue legal action against towing companies that are committing fraud.
IBC wants to help consumers avoid falling victim to insurance fraud. The more people report fraud, the more fraudsters we can bring to justice.
Know Your Tow
If you’ve been in a collision:
- Call your insurance representative as soon as possible to report the collision. They can provide helpful, on-the-spot advice on towing options, as well as recommendations of repair and car rental companies.
- You have the right to decide who can tow your vehicle and to what location (unless otherwise directed by police).
- A permission-to-tow form must be signed, and the towing company must provide an itemized invoice before receiving payment and towing your vehicle.
- You are entitled to a receipt for towing services rendered, and you have the option to pay with a debit or credit card.
- Decline offers to store your vehicle in a compound yard unless directed by your insurance representative to do so.
Never sign a blank contract or take referrals from towing companies.
For more information, visit Know Your Tow.
If You Suspect Insurance Fraud
In addition to contacting your insurer, you may also:
About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.
P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 128,000 Canadians, pays over $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $59.6 billion.
For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @IBC_Ontario or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.
SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada
Christmas is quickly approaching, and although the holiday is associated with cheer and generosity, scammers are in full force, ready to take advantage of unwary individuals who can be easily duped.
In the spirit of the popular holiday tune, Better Business Bureau wants people to be aware of the 12 scams of Christmas. These frauds and cons are common during the holiday season, and being alert can save clients from the negative repercussions of these frauds during the otherwise jolly holiday season.
Click through the following slides for Better Business Bureau’s 12 Days of Christmas Scams.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, a scammer gave to me:
Twelve malware e-cards
During the holidays, people love to spread the cheer, sometimes in the form of holiday e-cards. But viruses and malware often travel in e-mail attachments or links.
Better Business Bureau advises deleting e-mails from people whose names you don’t recognize. When in doubt, delete the e-mail or e-card. It is better to take caution than to fall victim to a corruptive virus.
Eleven stranded grandkids
Family is important, especially around the holidays. Scammers, however, can take advantage of this, utilizing what the Better Business Bureau characterizes as the “classic grandparent scam.”
If someone calls or sends an email pretending to be a grandchild, relative or friend, claiming they were robbed or harmed overseas, asking for money, check to verify that it is true before taking action.
Ten counterfeit gifts
Everybody likes a good deal, but low prices on luxury goods almost always means that the product is a cheap counterfeit.
Be careful while holiday shopping this year, especially online. Counterfeit transactions are illegal and harmful for brand owners and can leave customers dissatisfied.
Make sure that you purchase goods from a credible merchant. Read our article Safety Tips for Cyber Monday for online shopping strategies.
Nine pockets picked
Cold weather means bundling up. But with some of the extra padding of a puffy coat, we may not notice pickpockets who are willing to take advantage of the situation.
While out and about this holiday season, keep your purse or wallet secure. Better Business Bureau also warns against putting shopping bags down, even for a moment. Experienced thieves are waiting for the perfect moment to snatch up any valuables.
Eight stolen gift cards
Gift cards can be the perfect gift: easy to buy and are usually a big hit with recipients. However, make sure that you are purchasing gift cards from a reputable dealer.
Scammers can sell you a card and use the funds, even before you have the chance to give the card as a gift, the Better Business Bureau claims.
Seven fake coupons
Buying so many gifts during the holiday season, it is no surprise that many look to coupons to save a little cash, but Better Business Bureau suggests that people use caution when downloading coupons.
A retailer’s website is the best place to find coupons, and be wary particularly if a website asks for personal information.
Six Santa scammers
Receiving a letter from Santa Claus can be the highlight of the Christmas season for a young child, but these websites could put you at risk for identity theft.
Before entering any personal information, verify that the site is real, and not just gathering data to commit fraud.
Five fake charities
The Christmas season is about generosity, and many charities thrive on end-of-the-year giving as part of their annual income.
Although Better Business Bureau encourages charity, be careful when giving this holiday season. Scammers set up fake charities that have names that often sound legitimate or are similar to popular charities. Verify the organization before you make a charitable donation this Christmas.
Four bogus websites
For those who do not know what to look for, it can be almost impossible to differentiate a real website from a bogus one.
It is easy for a hacker to mimic a real website. A red flag is if a website reads “http” in the address bar instead of the more secure “https.” Additionally, if contact information is not listed, or they are asking for a payment by wire or money card, look for verification that the website is not a fraud.
Three travel scams
Travelling during the holidays can get pricey, so airfare bargains can be tempting. But this is just another way that scammers can take advantage of unsuspecting travellers.
Be cautious when booking travel through an advertisement online, and never wire money to someone you do not know. Using trusted travel agencies or websites recommended by friends and family members can ensure that you will not fall victim to travel scams.
Two phony loves
Everyone wants someone special to share a kiss under the mistletoe or as the ball drops on New Year’s. But for those looking for love online, the holidays are a prime time for scams.
Be careful when finding an online sweetheart, especially with an online match that that gets cozy too fast and asks for money, the Better Business Bureau warns.
… And a totally fictitious puppy
There may be no better gift than a cute and cuddly puppy, but be careful when buying a pet online.
Scammers take advantage of those who want to give puppies for the holidays. Sometimes these puppies can come from puppy mills, and could have serious health problems. Other scams could involve paying for the pet online, but never receiving the puppy because it was all a scam.
If you decide to give man’s best friend for Christmas, find a reputable breeder or local rescue league to avoid being burdened by an online con.
Excerpted article by Hannah Bender, PropertyCausualty360
Source: The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud
While much of insurance fraud goes unreported, at least $80 billion in fraudulent claims are made annually in the U.S. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a group of insurance, consumers and government organizations, reported the following incidents:
Burning desire. Two firefighters died when a brick wall fell on them as they fought an arson fire. Thu Hong Nguyen set the blaze to burn her nail salon for insurance money in Kansas City, Mo.
Driven to steal. A vast fraud ring run by Felix Filenger stole fully $23 million for bogus whiplash injury claims from real and setup car crashes in South Florida.
Bribes for blood. The largest doctor bribery scheme in U.S. history saw chiropractor David Nicoll stealing more than $100 million. He bribed at least 38 corrupt doctors for false testing of blood samples in Parsippany, N.J.
Toddler killer. Erica White poisoned her blind and deaf toddler Tyrael McFall to death for $50,000 of life insurance in the Atlanta area.
Maladjusted adjuster. Public adjuster Jorge Fausto Espinosa burned and flooded dozens of homes for $14 million of inflated claims in South Florida. Damage was rigged to look like electrical problems, kitchen accidents and faulty water lines.
Home arsonist floored. Firefighter Patrick Wolterman died when he fell through a seared floor while combating an insurance arson set by Billy Lester Parker and Billy Tucker in Hamilton, Ohio.
Pain for profit. Homeless people were inflicted with painful and unneeded spinal injections. Detroit-area streets also were flooded with more than 4 million painkillers in a $300-million Medicare plot by Dr. Mishiyat Rashid.
Unsober sober homes. Yury Baumblit ran unsafe flophouses that housed homeless people and addicts in the New York City area. He pushed many into unneeded drug rehab, forced some to take drugs, and evicted anyone who didn’t cooperate.
Money addiction. Kirsten Wallace co-owned a corrupt sober home that stole the identities of addicts to overbill insurers in a $175-million insurance crime. It was one of the largest health-insurance plots in California history.
A new report says thieves are setting their sights on older-model Ford trucks and high-end SUVs as the number of automotive thefts rose again last year.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada said Tuesday, December 11, 2018 in its annual list of the most frequently stolen vehicles that the Ford F250 and F350 trucks dominated the list of most stolen vehicles in 2017.
In Ontario, Chevrolet dominated the list, including older model Tahoes and Silverados. In Quebec, the most stolen vehicle was the 2017 Acura MDX, while in Atlantic Canada the Nissan Maxima was the top pick.
Henry Tso, the board’s vice-president of investigative services, said thieves are going after older model trucks because they have less sophisticated security measures.
“Usually you need the card key information to get the diagnostic to start the car. A lot of the older vehicles, it doesn’t have that, so once you have a key cut you can start the vehicle.”
Thieves are, however, targeting newer vehicles that have key fobs through a technique known as a relay attack, where they use a device to remotely pick up the radio signal coming from the fob to unlock and start the car.
“Right now it’s just trending up right now, it’s fairly new,” said Tso.
To prevent the relay attack, vehicle owners should consider keeping their fob in what’s known as a Faraday sleeve or pouch, which blocks the radio signals, he said.
Many drivers, however, would do well to simply not leave their keys in their vehicles. In Alberta, about 25 per cent of thefts occurred when the keys were in the car, often to keep the vehicle warm, said Tso.
“It’s easily preventable, the 25 per cent, all they have to do is be a little colder in their vehicle.”
Alberta also saw the most thefts, making up about 25,000 of the 85,000 vehicles stolen in 2017 for a nationwide increase of about six per cent.
New Brunswick saw the sharpest rise in thefts with a 28 per cent jump, with Ontario seeing a 15 per cent increase.
The board says New Year’s Day is the most common time for vehicles to be stolen.
But, it says vehicles are often smuggled outside the country, sold to unsuspecting consumers, scrapped for parts or used to commit another crime with organized crime rings usually involved.
The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada says crime groups involved in auto thefts operate primarily out of Montreal and Toronto.
Toufic Chamas fined $3K, sentenced to 5 days in jail
· CBC News
A Northwest Territories judge has reluctantly accepted a plea bargain for a man who repeatedly lied to police and flew a drone in airspace used by planes taking off and landing at the Yellowknife airport.
It marks the first time somebody has been convicted under the Criminal Code of dangerous operation of an aircraft as a result of illegally flying a drone, according to RCMP.
“Even taking into account the guilty pleas … I still don’t find that any of the sentences suggested are adequate,” said Judge Bernadette Schmaltz on Thursday before fining Toufic Chamas $3,000 and sentencing him to five days in jail, which he has already served.
The fine was for illegally flying a drone. The jail time was for three convictions — obstruction, driving while disqualified and breaching bail conditions by failing to report to a probation officer.
Chamas was also banned from driving for two years and is not allowed to fly a drone for three years.
Schmaltz said though she didn’t think the sentence was enough to deter the 22-year-old from committing more offences, she had to accept it because the Supreme Court of Canada has established that sentences suggested by both the Crown and defence in plea bargains can only be rejected if the sentence would cause people to lose confidence in the justice system.
Schmaltz said the sentence “definitely should not be considered a precedent.”
Caught 3 times
Police caught Chamas flying his DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone three times in downtown Yellowknife in September 2017.
Each time, Chamas told them he was unaware it was illegal to do so.
The third time, police noticed a Transport Canada pamphlet on his coffee table, laying out the rules governing drone use. It had been left with him by police who had responded to reports of a drone flying downtown the day before.
The obstruction charge was laid in October 2017 after Chamas gave a false name to municipal enforcement officers who pulled him over. He insisted the name was his even after the RCMP was called in to help identify him.
On Aug. 2 this year, Chamas was clocked driving 150 km/hr near Fort Providence, N.W.T. The RCMP found his driver’s licence had been suspended a month earlier in Alberta for the same reason: driving while disqualified.
“Mr. Chamas’s disregard for court orders couldn’t be more blatant,” said Schmaltz.
Chamas’s legal troubles are far from over.
Yellowknife RCMP say that on Oct. 19, officers pulled him over and found a stolen handgun and ammunition in his car. He has been charged with seven firearm offences, two driving-related offences, and five counts of failing to comply with court orders. He remains in custody.
VANCOUVER _ Money-laundering operations in casinos have been tied to British Columbia’s opioid overdose crisis and the real-estate market, the attorney general said Wednesday as he released an independent report detailing how organized crime groups used the gaming industry to distribute its profits.
David Eby said the report highlights disturbing issues related to international gangsters discovering Vancouver-area casinos as destinations to launder illegal drug money and then invest it in real estate.
“The fact that we played not just a local role, but an international role in this should be troubling to everybody,” he said.
Eby said the problem surfaced in 2011, but the former Liberal government failed to address “serious crime with serious consequences.”
“It has to stop,” Eby told a news conference. “We can’t let organized crime get ahead of us.”
Eby tasked former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German to conduct a review and make recommendations last September.
German’s report, “Dirty Money,” said B.C.’s gaming industry and the anti-money laundering system was not prepared for the onslaught of illegal cash flowing through the casinos and they failed collectively.
He estimated more than $100 million was funnelled through casinos as part of a scheme dubbed the “Vancouver model.”
German said the model is linked to Chinese crime organizations that would loan money from their proceeds, usually drugs, to borrowers who would gamble at B.C. casinos. The gambler would then receive Canadian dollars from the proceeds to repay the criminal groups.
“The ‘genius’ of the scheme is the ability to achieve two objectives and be paid for, both in the same transaction,” the report says. “The lender is both servicing a drug trafficking organization by laundering its money, and the Chinese gambler by providing him or her with Canadian cash.”
Much of the laundered money ended up being invested in Vancouver-area real estate, German said.
“Why did this occur? Because it could,” he told the news conference.
German’s report says the RCMP viewed real estate as a hiding place for illegal money.
“It has been said that ‘everything in B.C. comes back to real estate,’ “the report says. “It has also been suggested that you can see a ‘rat move through all of it,’ meaning that each component of the industry is vulnerable to criminal actors who tend to operate in more than one discrete area of real estate sales, mortgages, insurance, and so forth.”
German said the amount of suspicious money entering casinos since a high point in 2015 has been greatly reduced due to police and industry actions, but the prevention measures must continue to ensure the problem does not resurface.
He warned organized crime will move on to other sectors of the economy, including luxury vehicles and horse racing.
“We need a strong provincial regulator, which is not currently the situation,” German said.
The report makes 48 recommendations, including the establishment of a gaming regulator and a police unit that specializes in criminal and regulatory investigations in the industry.
Eby said the government accepts all the recommendations.
“We will be moving as quickly as possible to slam the door shut on dirty money,” he said.
He said the former Liberal government turned a blind eye to money laundering in B.C. casinos for years.
“Nobody said No to taking this money and that is inexcusable.”
Liberal jobs critic Jas Johal said he expected the report to include announcements of arrests and crackdowns on organized crime.
Billions of dollars have been invested in B.C.’s real estate market in the last few years so “$100 million is a drop the bucket,” he said in an interview.
Johal said German’s recommendations will strengthen the system, and the Liberal government was moving towards making improvements before the last provincial election in May 2017.
Eby launched an investigation after the government’s gaming enforcement branch showed him surveillance video of gamblers walking into casinos with suitcases and a hockey bag full of $20 bills.
The BC Lottery Corp., which operates casinos, said the report is an important road map for multiple organizations involved in fighting money laundering in the province.
“We are poised to implement the direction set out by Attorney General David Eby to keep dirty money out of casinos alongside our industry, government and law enforcement partners,” corporation president Jim Lightbody said in a news release.
By Dirk Meissner in Victoria.