Mass marketing fraud is fraud committed through mass-communications media like telephones, the internet, email, television, radio and personal contact. It includes wire fraud, mail fraud and telemarketing fraud intending to defraud the public from their money or other items of value. Fraud is a lot like theft, but with the intent to deceive the public or give a false representation.
Fraud is a massive business in Canada. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which collects data on fraud and identity theft, as of February 28, 2021, there were already 11,266 reports of fraud in Canada, with 7,646 victims and over 34 million dollars lost to fraud. In 2020, over 107 million dollars was lost by Canadians to scams and fraudsters.
In this post, we’ll discuss wire fraud, mail fraud and telemarketing fraud, the penalties involved and what you should do if you have been accused of a mass-marketing scheme.
WHAT IS WIRE FRAUD?
Wire fraud is a scam that involves the transfer of money from an individual or organization to a fraudulent individual. The money transfer usually happens over email or the phone with the person pretending to be a legitimate business or person.
In one circumstance in Kitchener in 2020, a woman lost $19,000 in a bitcoin scam where the fraudster called and pretended to be a local police officer. The “officer” said she was in danger of identity theft and, to protect her accounts, should empty her bank accounts and deposit the money in a Bitcoin machine. They would contact her with a cheque for the amount. When she didn’t hear back from the police, she contacted them and found out she was a scam victim.
Penalties for Wire Fraud
The Criminal Code makes basic fraud an offence. (s.380(1)) This includes cases where either “…the public or any person” is defrauded, which allows for charges based on single transactions or a single “defrauding the public” charge for a large number of victims. If the stolen goods’ value exceeds $5000, there is a maximum penalty of fourteen years imprisonment, and it is considered a criminal offence.
WHAT IS MAIL FRAUD?
Mail fraud is a scam that involves the mail and the transfer of goods or money from an individual or organization to a fraudulent individual.
One recent example of mail fraud is a Guelph man who ordered products by mail and then returned them for a refund. He packaged boxes with a device inside to remove the box’s shipping label, making it undeliverable. Because the boxes were in the possession of Canada post, the companies had to issue a refund. When police searched his home, they found over $20,000 in items and $25,000 in cash.
Penalties for Mail Fraud
The same penalties exist for mail fraud as for other types of fraud. However, mail fraud is a particular circumstance (s.381) listed in the criminal code.
WHAT IS TELEMARKETING FRAUD?
Telemarketing fraud is the victimization of innocent persons by dishonest or deceptive conduct. They often use the telephone or a telephone call center to make “robocalls,” and often, offences are committed across provincial, state, and national boundaries, making prosecution even more complicated.
One well-known example of telemarketing fraud is the CRA tax scam, where callers claim to be from the CRA and scare victims into paying accounts they claim they owe. This scam resulted in reported losses of more than $17.2 million in Canada between 2014 and 2019.
Penalties for Telemarketing Fraud
Along with the penalties for fraud schemes, The CRTC (the Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission) takes telemarketing scams seriously. If an individual is found in violation of the National DNCL or the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, they can be fined up to $1,500 per violation; corporations can be issued penalties of up to $15,000 per violation. If found in violation of CASL (Canada’s anti-spam legislation), individuals can be given fines of up to $1 million per violation and businesses up to $10 million per violation.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF A MASS-MARKETING SCHEME?
If you have been accused of mass-marketing fraud, it is essential to understand the charges and possible penalties. Even fraud under $5000 can cause a lot of damage to businesses and individuals if not handled properly.
Being charged with fraud over $5000 is a serious offence and carries with it a criminal charge that will stay on your permanent record and affect future job prospects or even cross border travel. You need to take the charges seriously. Get experienced help to defend your case or help you settle the matter out of court and avoid criminal prosecution.
William Jaksa is an experienced criminal defence lawyer with a decade of experience handling fraud cases in Toronto. If you have been charged with fraud, protect yourself and get in touch with William Jaksa today for a consultation.