I don’t feel bad and I won’t be caught, says CRA scam­mer

A con artist reached by Starmetro rea­sons Canada is a ‘ bet­ter coun­try’ than In­dia MOREAT

StarMetro Toronto - - BIG OPINIONS - JEREMY NUT­TALL

The job is like be­ing an ex­e­cu­tioner, says the voice on the other end of the phone. It’s just what he’s paid to do.

The man with a light English ac­cent says he’s speak­ing from an In­dia-based call cen­tre where he and other scam artists work through the night, phon­ing Cana­di­ans and claim­ing to work for the Canada Rev­enue Agency. They tell peo­ple they owe tax money and will be ar­rested if they don’t pay. Some pan­icked vic­tims send thou­sands of dol­lars.

“It’s like some­body in Texas. He’s an ex­e­cu­tioner; he has to ex­e­cute peo­ple, he has to kill peo­ple. It’s his job. That’s what he’s do­ing, isn’t it?” he said. “It’s like that. I’m just do­ing a job right now.”

On Oct. 29, fol­low­ing news of raids against call cen­tres in In­dia, Starmetro re­ceived a call to a news­room phone from some­one claim­ing to be from the CRA. They said we had to con­tact them im­me­di­ately to rem­edy a tax is­sue.

We called back to see if any­one would share their story. They did. The re­sult­ing con­ver­sa­tion with a man claim­ing to be a CRA scam­mer pro­vides some in­sight into why they con­tinue to tar­get Cana- The num­ber of hate crimes re­ported to Cana­dian po­lice jumped sharply last year af­ter years of small in­creases, with new statis­tics show­ing in­ci­dents tar­get­ing Black peo­ple, Jews and Mus­lims ac­count­ing for most of the up­turn.

Hate crimes tar­get­ing Black peo­ple ac­counted for 16 per cent of all hate crimes in Canada in 2017, Statis­tics Canada re­ported Thurs­day.

They stayed the most com- di­ans and why the re­cent busts will not de­ter them.

The Cana­dian Anti-fraud Cen­tre (CAFC) re­ports that it has re­ceived about 74,000 com­plaints about the calls since 2014, with 4,000 vic­tims re­port­ing more than $15.2 mil­lion in losses to the scam­mers.

In late Oc­to­ber, Cana­dian mon type of race- or eth­nic­i­tyre­lated hate crime.

In­ci­dents in­volv­ing Mus­lims more than dou­bled between 2016 and 2017, from 139 in­ci­dents to 349, one year af­ter po­lice re­ported a de­crease in hate crimes tar­get­ing that pop­u­la­tion. po­lice an­nounced that a joint ef­fort with Amer­i­can and In­dian po­lice agen­cies had shut down three such call cen­tres. Of­fi­cers ar­rested sev­eral peo­ple and seized in­for­ma­tion re­lated to about 600 Cana­di­ans who had fallen for the scam.

In the week fol­low­ing sim­i­lar ar­rests in 2016, com­plaints to the CAFC about the scam

Over­all, hate crimes tar­get­ing Mus­lims ac­counted for 17 per cent of all in­ci­dents.

And hate crimes tar­get­ing Jews in­creased for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year and ac­counted for 18 per cent of all hate crimes na­tion­ally.

The fig­ures prompted Jew­ish groups to call on the Lib­er­als to do more to help po­lice fight hate crime, and fol­low through on a pledge by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to ex­pand a pro­gram aimed at help­ing re­li­gious groups pay for se­cu­rity at their fa­cil­i­ties.

Hate crimes based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion ac­counted for about one in 10 of all such in­ci­dents last year. dropped by 93 per cent — but they picked up again in the fol­low­ing months.

On Nov. 6, po­lice told the Par­lia­ment Hill press gallery they will con­tinue work­ing to root out and shut down the call cen­tres in In­dia.

The man we spoke to gave a name and later pro­vided a photo of an In­dian ID, but Starmetro has cho­sen not to pub­lish the name be­cause of re­main­ing con­cerns about its ve­rac­ity. The man would not prove the ID was in his pos­ses­sion.

A Linkedin page says a man with that name is em­ployed by a com­pany called Sonark Out­sourc­ing So­lu­tions. The com­pany’s Face­book page says it is lo­cated in Phoenix, Ariz., but the page is full of pho­tos la­belled as be­ing taken in Lud­hi­ana, Pun­jab, In­dia. The city is in the coun­try’s north, near its bor­der with Pak­istan.

Starmetro could not find a phone num­ber for Sonark Out­sourc­ing So­lu­tions. An email ad­dress for Sonark found on an In­dian com­pany list­ing site also ap­pears on­line as the email for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies. StarMetro sent a mes­sage to the email ad­dress but did not re­ceive a re­sponse.

In the Face­book pho­tos, em­ploy­ees are seen eat­ing cake, liv­ing it up cel­e­brat­ing birth­days and hol­i­days. Videos pro­mote par­ties be­ing thrown by the com­pany. How­ever, our caller said he works un­til 4 a.m., 21 days per month, at a “s--hole of a job.”

He in­sists there’s no other op­tion for him. The scam earns him $400 a month — $300 more than he’d make at a le­git­i­mate call cen­tre, he said.

There’s in­ad­e­quate med­i­cal cov­er­age in In­dia and life costs money, he said, ar­gu­ing he must pro­vide for his fam­ily. Those who fall for the scam and lose their sav­ings are of no con­cern to him.

“Right now, they’re in a bet­ter sit­u­a­tion than I am. They’re in a bet­ter coun­try than I am,” he said. “Their gov­ern­ment is not go­ing to see them in the street, but my gov­ern­ment will see me in the street.”

Hate crimes tar­get­ing Blacks, Jews, Mus­lims on rise, Stat­can says

“RIGHT NOW, THEY’RE IN A BET­TER SIT­U­A­TION THAN I AM. THEY’RE IN A BET­TER COUN­TRY THAN I AM.”

CRA scam caller

the past week and a half, these mem­o­ries came to mind, Huang, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Van­cou­ver-based non-profit Hua Foun­da­tion, said. And while un­til re­cently, cov­er­age of the event largely fo­cused on the the­atri­cal­ity of the Na­tional Geo­graphic- style strug­gle of mam­mal ver­sus fish, Huang said the con­flict holds deeper sig­nif­i­cance for many Van­cou­verites.

But most of all, the pres­ence of koi in con­tem­po­rary life here in Van­cou­ver points to the ways in which the city’s his­tory is fun­da­men­tally tied to the his­tory of the Asian set­tlers who have helped de­fine the city’s iden­tity since its in­cep­tion, he said.

JESSE WIN­TER/STARMETRO VAN­COU­VER

One CRA scam caller reached byy Starmetro saysy de­spitep ppo­lice raids in In­dia, he's not wor­ried about be­ing caught. The scam earns him $400 a month, which is $300 more than he’d make at a le­git­i­mate call cen­tre.

In 2017, po­lice re­ported 2,073 hate crimes, an in­crease of 664 from 2016.

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