Milton (October 15, 2020) – The RCMP charged an Ontario man, Naman Grover, for allegedly operating as a money mule in connection with a series of transnational telephone scams. The charges result from an ongoing investigation, dubbed Project Octavia. The Mounties already arrested three individuals for acting as money mules as part of the same investigation earlier this year. Money mules assist with laundering the proceeds of these fraudulent financial crimes such as the CRA telephone scam, the bank investigator scam, and the tech support scam. The RCMP issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for Grover since they believe, he left the country recently.
Another alleged money mule is wanted in connection with a series of transnational telephone scams. The RCMP charged Naman Grover from Mississauga, according to a press release issued on October 14.
Another money mule charged as a result of Project Octavia
As a result of an RCMP investigation, dubbed Project Octavia, the Mounties identified another alleged money mule in connection with transnational scams.
Money mules are intermediaries between Canadian victims and the organized crime groups operating the call centers in India who conduct the phone scams such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam, the bank investigator scam, or the tech support scam. Typically, money mules are located in Canada and receive the money from the victims while assisting with laundering the funds before they transfer their prey to the criminal groups abroad. Experts say that money mules are usually the people who are making the least money in a scam.
The criminal organization recruits a number of individuals as money mules. In many of these incidents, individuals in Canada on student visas have been recruited to carry out these fraudulent activities.
The RCMP charged 22-year-old Grover with Fraud Over $5,000, Possession of Proceeds of Crime, and Laundering Proceeds of Crime. In the press release, the Mounties said that they have information that he may have left Canada recently. Hence, they issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for him.
Transnational phone scams
Between 2014 and 2020, Canadians lost over $18 million in total as a result of so-called CRA scams. Including the bank investigator and tech support scams, the total reported victim losses are over $35 million. According to the RCMP, the fraudulent callers conducting phone scams are commonly operating out of India and are targeting Canadians since 2014.
The CRA scam is a scheme in which the caller impersonates a member of the CRA or other federal government agencies. They intimidate victims by phone, email, or by text messages into paying non-existent fines or taxes. Sometimes, they also try to steal personal information from their victims during the bogus exchange.
Despite several police raids on illegal call centers in India, these scams continue to victimize Canadians.
In October 2018, the RCMP Greater Toronto Area Financial Crime section started the investigation called Project Octavia. The focus of this investigation is to combat the CRA phone scam and other interrelated scams through public awareness, disruption, and enforcement.
As a result of the Project Octavia, the Mounties already arrested three individuals who are accused of acting as money mules earlier this year.
‘The RCMP and our many partners continue to work together to dismantle these criminal organizations. Money mules are a crucial component of this complex scam as they facilitate the flow of victims’ funds to members of these illicit organizations,’ said Inspector Jim Ogden, Officer in Charge of the Greater Toronto Area Financial Crime Section in Milton.
‘Arrests and charges send a clear and important message – those who get involved as money mules will be arrested, criminally charged and prosecuted. Taking part in the illegal activities of these criminal organizations has other serious consequences; including revocation of student visas.’
The authorities announced that Project Octavia is continuing and further arrests and charges are anticipated.
Furthermore, the Mounties recommended in their press release that anybody should hang up the phone when being asked for personal or banking information and report the activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) or the local police if threats are involved. Moreover, they advised not to interact with e-mails or text messages that make suspicious tax claims and ask the recipient to click on a link to submit information.