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9 Mar, 2024 16:50

Canadians are ‘target No.1’ for Ukrainian scammers – media

“Hundreds” of fraudulent call centers have been established in Ukraine and Eastern Europe to run investment scams, national broadcaster CBC has reported
Canadians are ‘target No.1’ for Ukrainian scammers – media

Canada has become a major target for scammers operating from Ukraine and Eastern Europe, state broadcaster CBC/Radio Canada reported this week, adding that the nation has been seen as “easy prey” by the criminals due to the authorities’ inaction.

Information about a vast investment scam network operating online and through phone calls was provided to the broadcaster by a whistleblower identified only as ‘Alex’. The man claimed that the network includes “hundreds” of fraudulent call centers based in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. According to CBC, just one such center in Kiev employs some 150 people, whose “only job” is “to steal the life savings of Canadians.”

Last year alone, more than Can$300 million was stolen from Canadians in investment scams, CBC reported, citing data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). That was nine times as much as in 2020, the broadcaster said, adding that half of these losses were linked to cryptocurrency fraud.

According to Alex, Canada has become particularly popular with scammers because of its lax prosecution of such activities. “I see that Canadians are target No. 1. I think it's because law enforcement has made no real prosecutions of the scammers,” he told CBC. “I think this makes an impression, for the scammers, that Canada is an easy target.”

The criminals lure their victims through social media ads on Facebook and other platforms offering risk-free, high-yield cryptocurrency investments, CBC reported. Such ads reportedly often include images of Canada’s prominent public figures, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, supposedly promoting the investments.

According to CBC, the scammers started recruiting people to specifically work with “Canada only.” A Radio Canada journalist was able to apply for such a “job” at a Kiev-based call center that exclusively targeted Canadians.

Such “agents” were offered a monthly base salary of $1,200 and a 10% commission on all the money they stole. Those who were able to get $100,000 from their victims per month could see their salary rise to $1,500, the broadcaster reported.

According to Alex, the stolen money could then be used to finance other criminal activities. “It’s going to corrupt authorities. We don't know where the money goes. It can go to the black market, maybe to drugs, maybe to weapons... destination unknown,” he warned.

”These criminals love Canada,” Mark Solomons, a senior investigator at IFW Global, an Australian company specializing in fraud recovery, told CBC. According to him, the government does not put enough effort into prosecuting such cases, and the chances of the criminals being caught “are very slim.”

Several law enforcement agencies and ministries contacted by CBC, including Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc's office and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as the Foreign Ministry, refused to provide any comment on the issue.

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