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Brampton couple arrested in connection to CRA phone scam investigation

Last Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 7:16 pm EDT

A Brampton couple is facing fraud-related charges in connection to an investigation into the infamous Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) telephone scam.

According to the RCMP, Gurinderpreet Dhaliwal, 37, and his wife, Inderpreet Dhaliwal, 36, are each facing charges of fraud over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime and possession of property obtained by crime. The couple was arrested on Wednesday.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for Shantanu Manik, a 26-year-old foreign national who is believed to be in India.

The RCMP is calling the Brampton couple “Canadian-based co-conspirators” in a mostly India-based phone and internet scam.

The scam, which the RCMP say has been targeting Canadians since 2014, involves fraudsters phoning Canadians and identifying themselves as representatives from the CRA, RCMP or the federal government. The scammers then tell the person on the phone that they owe back taxes, and threaten them if they don’t pay the money back.

The RCMP says that between 2014 and 2019, Canadians lost over $16.8 million to the scam, and it has resulted in people being very suspicious when the CRA contacts them through legitimate ways.

The RCMP say their investigation into the scam, dubbed Project OCTAVIA, uncovered money mules, or money mule managers, operating in Canada.

These mules would be ordered to courier proceeds from the scam to a specific name and address, or drop point, which led investigators to the Brampton couple said Insp. Jim Ogden.

“We have disrupted the necessary flow of money from Canada to India which will have a big impact on the operation and the bottom line of the scammers,” said Ogden, who called the arrests significant.

The government’s fight against the scammers has been multi-pronged, with some telephone providers being called on to update their technology to protect against spoof calls.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced late last year that it expected telecom companies to implement systems by Sept. 30, 2020, that will give consumers who use Internet Protocol or VOIP-based phones, or mobile phones, the ability to verify whether calls they receive are from legitimate people, businesses or government agencies.

The Brampton couple are scheduled to appear in court on March 2nd.

Watch the full RCMP update below.

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