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Outstanding hydro bills to physical threats: Delhi telephone scam bust

Victims were scammed over bogus hydro bills, phoney Canada Revenue Agency debt and one woman believed her husband was in danger while abroad in Sri Lanka.
Jason Unrau Montreal, QC

One victim thought he was paying bogus hydro bills, others phoney Canada Revenue Agency debt and another woman believed her husband was in danger while abroad in Sri Lanka.

These are but some of the alleged victims who were bilked in an ongoing scam that Canadians continue to fall for, and for whom India’s police reported on Sunday that they had arrested 32 more suspects.

“Too many to count,” is how an Ottawa store manager described the number of potential victims attempting to pay fraudulent bills concocted by overseas scammers, at just one location in the nation’s capital.

The Post Millennial has shielded this person’s identity for their own protection.

The source counts nearly three dozen victims encountered at the store after a Bitcoin machine was installed there “about a year ago”.

Since a CTV W5 Call Centre Scam special aired on television last March, the source counts “about four or five [victims]… definitely less.”

Before the television news expose, in October 2018 the year previous, RCMP and their Indian counterparts trumpeted similar arrests , which were widely reported.

Yet barely a fortnight from this anniversary, Delhi police’s latest crackdown  on the illicit scam indicates few are deterred from ensnaring more gullible Canadians and the victims mount.

Payment methods demanded by these extortion scofflaws vary. Some victims are scammed into relinquishing funds via internet transactions while others are directed to money transfer outlets.

According to RCMP, victims number more than 4,000 while the lucre is worth more than $15 million.

Asked if Bitcoin transactions formed part of the investigation, police would not say.

“We were not directly involved in these particular arrests. We welcome any disruption and take-down of illegal call centres that are victimizing,” according to RCMP spokesperson, (acting) Sgt. Caroline Duval.

“Canadians. It assists us all by providing public awareness and the resulting prevention of this harmful and pervasive scam.”

Based on TPM’s interview with the store manager, Bitcoin is undoubtedly employed by these criminals, and on a sophisticated scale.

“One time, a guy was here all day. I thought he was a random shopper from corporate,” the manager told TPM.

Turns out, the “guy” was loitering–waiting for TPM’s source to leave or take a break–as the scammers working out of India were apparently on to clerk and his good Samaritan ways.

“He made one payment, then they called a taxi for him, from Delhi or wherever. Told him not to talk to me. (The taxi) arrived. He got in, went to Bank of Montreal and returned.”

That is when the TPM source intervened.

On another occasion a woman told the source that her scammers threatened to harm her husband, who was living overseas in Sri Lanka at the time.

According to the store manager, the woman paid a partial instalment before learning her husband was safe, never in danger whatsoever.

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Jason Unrau
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