Tax scammers traced back to India (Marketplace)

[ ♪♪♪ ] David: Let’s talk about
who’s behind the ultimate scam. We’re going to find
the fraudsters. Only on your Marketplace. [ ♪♪♪ ] David: We are in India, on
the trail of a criminal gang. Can you go inside
the building now? There’s a good chance
they’ve targeted you. All right.
They’re going in. They’re nervous but
they’re going in. We’re tracking down the
fraudsters behind a very convincing scam. David: Ever heard
that message? Well, it’s a lie, not the
real Canada Revenue Agency. David: Instead, it’s one of
the largest cyber schemes in Canadian history. David: But who falls for it? In Canada, this man did. 3,600. This one is 7,000. David: That makes it $10,600. And this one is 28,000. David: And then
finally, $28,000. Yes. David: He’s asked us
to hide his identity, worried his
employer will judge him, and he’ll lose his job. So, we’re calling him Joe. You got a call from someone
saying they were with the Canada Revenue Agency. What did they say to you? David: In that call, they said
you owed how much money? 7,000. David: The scammers
can spoof numbers, make it look like
they’re the CRA. That’s why so many
of us take the call. David: So they’ve
gone from saying $7,000, to now it’s $32,000? Yes. David: What impact has all
of this had on your health? David: He’s not alone. In just five years, Canadian
authorities have received more than 60,000 complaints,
over $10 million stolen. And those numbers keep rising. Why do you think it’s
been so successful? Because it’s
so well-organized. David: Mark Simchison used to
lead the Major Fraud Unit of the Hamilton police. The criminals are
using victim vulnerability, and it’s not every day and every
Canadian citizen that is being victimized by this. It is the vulnerable,
the elderly, new immigrants to Canada, that may
not know all of our laws. David: He says this
super-scam goes beyond fraud. I’d also term
it as extortion. They are threatening
people with arrest, incarceration,
deportation, you name it. That’s extortion. It goes beyond fraud. David: Even as we
investigate the calls, like many of you, we’re getting
harassed by them, too. David: We want to
find the scammers. Step one…is calling them back. Yes, hello. I am calling because
of a message received to call you back. It said that money was owed? David: We know
this is a scam. You went into this store? To this store. David: All right,
let’s take a look. This location,
with this machine. David: But Gehangir Rashidi
did not. He’s originally from Iran and
believed a government could actually do this. How did this start? David: What did you
think when you heard? It’s a huge amount. David: The
total amount he paid? David: His life savings,
gone, disappeared into an untraceable
Bitcoin machine. After hearing his story,
it’s time for us to confront the scammers. My name is David Common. I’m a journalist at a television
program called CBC Marketplace, a Canadian TV show. I’m wondering why call centres
in India are harassing Canadians and pretending to be tax
authorities when they aren’t. David: Why are you lying? Why are you taking money from
Canadians who don’t owe money? David: Yes, I
am a journalist. Do you feel
honest with your work? David: You feel honest?
Because this is not honest. David: Do you feel bad
about what you do every day? David: Do you just
work for other people? David: Minutes later, he
admits where he’s calling from. Are you in Mumbai
or are you in Pune? David: You’re
from one of them? David: That’s the lead
we’ve been waiting for. After even more digging,
we’ve narrowed down our search. Off to Mumbai. So…we’re going to
confront them in person. While the scam ends
up in Canadian homes, it begins right here, in India. David: Ritesh Bhatia
is a top Indian cyber security investigator. David: But money isn’t
the only motivator for the young scammers. David: What they’re not
seeing is the other side. David: He says the
scammers are smart, their technology
is sophisticated, constantly changing
tactics to stay hidden. When you see the phone number,
it looks like its a Canadian number, not an Indian number. David: And, he says, there’s
a reason the callers are asking for the money in Bitcoin. David: When you hand that
money over, it is gone. It’s gone. David: Two years ago, the
largest call centre scam in this country’s history
came to an abrupt end, all because investigators in
this police station found out what was going on, ultimately
arresting hundreds of people. So how long have you been
police commissioner here? The top cop behind the
raid was Param Bir Singh. David: They lived a great
life, the ringleaders? David: A private jet? David: That gives you a
sense of just how much money was involved here. David: You have taken
action on this scam. That’s right. David: Do you think
that it is still operating? David: But our detective work
shows it has not been wiped out. There are new scammers in town. Don’t go anywhere. We have information on where a
call centre has been operating, and this is around the time that
they would begin making calls to places like Canada. We’re going to try
to confront them, coming right up on Marketplace. [ ♪♪♪ ] David: Get more Marketplace. Sign up for our
weekly newsletter, /marketplace. David: This is
your Marketplace. It’s one of the
largest cyber schemes in Canadian history. Fake CRA calls threatening
thousands of Canadians. -This call is from the
Canada Revenue Agency… David: And after
months of digging, we’ve traced those
fake CRA calls to India. David: Yup, yeah, okay. Inside this complex is an
illegal call centre set up to impersonate tax authorities,
threaten honest people, and steal millions. Which one is the call centre? We’ve hired
Sudhir Kotian to go inside, to help us find the scammers. He fits the
profile– young, tech savvy, and hungry for work. Did you hear them
asking for money? David: $7,000? David: But then…they
discover Sudhir’s hidden camera. What did they do to
you when they realized? First, they slapped me. David: They slapped you.
And then what did they do? They punching on my
back, pulling my hair. David: Pulling your hair. Did they take the
camera from you? Yes. David: Right
away, and did they– They take my mobile. David: They took your phone. My phone.
My purse. David: Your wallet.
Did you have money in there? -Yeah.
-David: You had money? -2500 rupees.
-David: 2,500 rupees. How did you get out? David: The scammers
were inside this office, but we can’t get in. Soon after they found
out we were on to them, the place shut down. You must have been scared. Yeah. David: These
are serious people. I think that
they will kill me. David: You were
worried they would kill you. Yeah. David: Locked up.
Run away. Sudhir’s okay, but it’s
clear we need to be careful. As we continue our chase to
find an active scam centre, we need the inside scoop. Meet whistleblower Jayesh Dubey. It was big money. David: More than you
would make anywhere else? David: Just two years ago,
he worked at a different scam centre, following a
script and impersonating an American tax agent. David: You’re
threatening people. You’re saying
they could go to jail, they could get arrested. David: That sound familiar? Back in Canada, Joe says
he fell for that script, and it cost him over $36,000. This is a difficult
question to ask now, but why did you stay
on the phone with him, and not say, “I need to hang up
and call my accountant,” or do some research? David: We want to talk
to those so-called officers. And with night
falling in Mumbai, it’s morning in Canada,
so young scammers are getting ready to make calls. Our Intel suggests they’re doing
it here– one of the sketchiest slums in Mumbai. We’re just minutes away now from
an apartment where we know a call centre has been operating. We know these
people are dangerous. We also know this
area can be dangerous. And so we’re working with
some local Indian journalists to help us get inside. But after driving
past the address, our helpers have a warning. Do you think we can
safely go in the building? David: Can’t do it.
And why is that? What is the danger? David: With worries that
people watching the building are armed, and knowing
we’ll stand out, our helpers are
going inside solo. Outside, hidden
from view, we wait. And then our helpers call. So, the call
centre has moved out? -They’ve– they’ve–
-Moved out, yes, yes. David: They’ve– they
realized someone was on to them? But then, our man
on the inside hangs up, and sends this
urgent text message… So, it’s now clear to us
this area is dangerous, that we need to get out,
that we’re being watched, and that the people who
went into the building for us, they’re being followed. This is worrying. We need to get out
of the area fast. Kilometres away, we catch
up with those helping us. And they are scared. We know there was a call
centre in that apartment. -Yeah.
David: But it’s gone? David: To escape. David: Chased on
foot, then on motorcycle. This criminal gang wants
to protect themselves, and has already shown a
willingness to be violent. And why do you think
they were following you? David: We may not have
caught the scammers this time, but as we close in, their
call centres shut down. And as far as we know, this is
the closest any journalist has ever come to confronting them. Cybersecurity investigator
Ritesh Bhatia says the scam centres always seem to be
one step ahead. David: What you’re talking about
sounds like organized crime. David: It’s huge! David: You mean the
police are profiting? David: So the scammers
are giving the police money? David: Jayesh agrees. Do you think
people, here in India, who are doing this
scam, feel safe? David: Why do you say that? David: Paying off
the police here? Yeah, yeah. David: So what you’re
saying is that the police are in on the scam,
in this country. David: Sounds like
you’re saying someone needs to light a fire. Yes.
A big one. David: Time to ask the police
what they’re doing to stop the scam once and for all. Nobody has
contacted us from Canada. David: No one’s contacted you? No one.
No one contacted. David: That
doesn’t seem right. [ ♪♪♪ ] David: Do you have a story you
want us to investigate? Right to us,
Marketplace at David: This is
your Marketplace. [ ♪♪♪ ] David: CRA scam
centres in India are fooling thousands
of Canadians. More than 60,000
complaints…millions of dollars lost. In 2016, Deputy Police
Commissioner Parag Manere led a raid, shutting down a huge
illegal call centre targeting North Americans. Deputy Commissioner?
David from CBC, Canada. Hi. David: We’re about
to enlighten him. That same old scam is still
going on with new tactics. We have been able to
see places where, even in the last
couple of weeks, that call centres
were in fact operating. Does that surprise you? David: But that’s
not what these ones are. These ones are not those. David: These ones are
involved in that tax scam. David: They’re taking
huge amounts of money and it’s operating out of this
country once again. David: So, what
can the police do to try to stop the bad minority? David: So, who
is responsible? The top cop here,
Commissioner Param Bir Singh, he blames the RCMP. David: No one
has contacted you? David: You’re telling
me 60,000 people, at least, have
complained in Canada and nobody from Canada
has told you anything? David: And the only way he
found out about it is by going on the RCMP website yourself? David: That
doesn’t seem right. David: The Indian police,
they were willing to talk to us. But for more than two months,
the RCMP, our own police, refused our repeated requests for an on
camera interview. And then, at the last moment, on
the day of broadcast, senior government officials
called us up to say they are now in contact
with Indian police. Even if, at this point, we have
not yet seen any action. Former Fraud Chief
Mark Simchison says actions speak louder than words. What needs to be done in
Canada and abroad to stop it, given the
experience that you have? What would you say? No one police
service is going to do it. No one government
is going to do it. It has to be a
multijurisdictional task force approach, where
everybody’s involved. David: Sounds like
you’re saying someone needs to light a fire. Yes, a big one. David: While we
wait for that to happen, CRA victim Gehangir Rashidi has
a message for those who stole all his money. David: And what’s that thing? David: After losing
$110,000, how does he move on? Makda: Who is watching you? Many people don’t
have the know-how to secure their smart devices. I don’t know if
you realize this, but these cameras are actually
broadcasting on the Internet. -Really?
-Makda: Yeah. I didn’t realize that anyone
could have access to that. It’s almost as if
the house is haunted. If anybody, like, would
walk into the situation, they would think they’re
walking into a horror movie. [ ♪♪♪ ]

Danny Hutson

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