FTC, Canadian Law Enforcement Partners Target Cross Border Fraud

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Today, the Toronto Strategic Partnership, of which the Federal Trade Commission is a member, released a paper summarizing the joint law enforcement initiatives undertaken in the last seven years to combat cross-border telemarketing fraud and other mass-marketing fraud. Through their combined efforts, the Partnership has shut down cross-border operations that defrauded nearly two million U.S. and Canadian consumers of more than $380 million.

In 2000, the Partnership was formed to enhance cooperation and coordination by civil and criminal law enforcement agencies targeting cross-border con artists. The Partnership’s significant accomplishments include:

  • The FTC brought 19 major consumer fraud cases in federal courts in connection with its work with the Partnership;
  • The Ontario Ministry of Government Services provided investigative leads, surveillance support, and database searches to unravel potential links between various businesses and individuals operating scams or frauds;
  • The U.S. Postal Inspection Service filed criminal charges in 15 cases, resulting in 17 convictions. The respective grand jury indictments charged mail- and wire- fraud schemes had defrauded 191,000 victims of over $58 million;
  • The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) established the “Phonebusters” National Call Centre. In addition, the OPP was the lead agency in “Project Northern Rackets,” which involved more that 100 police officers from four different services who spent a year investigating a scam operating out of boiler rooms located in four cities in central Ontario; and
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police contributed full-time staff to the work of the Partnership. The York Regional Police Service has contributed staff in the past. The U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading is the newest member of the Partnership.

One component of the Partnership, the Toronto Police Service Fraud Squad’s Mass Marketing Unit, is staffed on assignment from different Partnership agencies. “From the inception of the Partnership, the fraud squad has closed boiler rooms, conducted searches, arrested malefactors, and assisted in prosecutions. At least 644 people have been arrested, and 495 search warrants have been executed. Dozens of boiler rooms also have been closed, and tens of thousands of dollars have been returned to victims,” the paper notes.

The Partnership consists of law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Its primary focus has been fraud emanating from the Province of Ontario. There are several other similar partnerships operating in other parts of Canada.

The paper covers activities from the formation of the Partnership through September 2007. In addition to the FTC, the Partnership is composed of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Competition Bureau of Canada, the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ontario Ministry of Government Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading.

This release is available electronically from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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