Ontario husband and wife arrested in connection with CRA telephone tax scheme

A husband and wife from Ontario have been arrested and charged with laundering money in connection with various transnational schemes, including the infamous Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) telephone scheme.

On Friday, RCMP announced the arrests were the result of a months-long investigation, which commenced in October of 2018 under the name Project Octavia. The aim of the project was to combat the notorious CRA telephone tax scam, which involves callers from India pretending to be from the CRA, RCMP, or other federal agents in order to intimidate victims into paying non-existent fines or taxes.

Since 2014, the RCMP said CRA scams have resulted in reported victim losses totalling more than $16.8 million. With the inclusion of other scams, including the bank investigator and tech support scams, the losses total more than $30 million.

“This has led to Canadians becoming wary or suspicious even when CRA is attempting legitimate contact,” RCMP said.

On Wednesday, RCMP investigators arrested the 37-year-old man and 36-year-old woman in Brampton, Ont., located west of Toronto. They also issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for a 26-year-old foreign national they believe is currently in India.

“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,” RCMP Insp. Jim Ogden of the Greater Toronto Area Financial Crime division, told reporters at a press conference in Milton, Ont. on Friday.

Ogden alleged the pair from Brampton worked as “money mules” in Canada by laundering the proceeds of these telemarketing schemes and sending it elsewhere.

RCMP said their efforts through Project Octavia, which includes a public awareness and prevention campaign, the take down of 39 illegal call centres in India, and arrests in Canada, have contributed to a decline in scam calls since 2018.

Ogden said the reported victim losses in 2018 totalled $6.4 million; while in 2019 the cumulative losses were down significantly to $1.4 million.

Despite these gains, RCMP said they’re still pursuing money mule networks operating in Canada with the help of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, RCMP criminal intelligence analysts, the RCMP liaison officer in India, provincial police, the CRA and Canada Border Services Agency, and foreign authorities in India and the U.S.

“We remain steadfast in our pursuit,” Ogden said.

Gurinderpreet Dhaliwal, 37, and Inderpreet Dhaliwal, 36, from Brampton have both been charged with one count of fraud over $5,000, one count of laundering of the proceeds of crime, and one count of property obtained by crime.

They have been released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to appear in a Brampton court on March 2.

Additionally, a Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for 26-year-old foreign national Shantanu Manik.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.