RCMP charge two more South Asian fraudsters as part of Project Octavia

Vimal Shrestha, 41, and Ms. Bindisha Joshi, 41, of Lalitpur/Kathmandu, Nepal, have been charged

TWO South Asians have been charged in connection with transnational telephone frauds, including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) telephone scam, the bank investigator scam, and the tech support scam by the RCMP Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Financial Crime Section, Toronto West Detachment (TWD) in Milton, Ontario.

To address the victimization of Canadians, in October of 2018, the RCMP GTA Financial Crime Section commenced an investigation, named Project Octavia. The focus of the investigation was to combat the CRA telephone tax schemes and other interrelated frauds through public awareness, disruption, and enforcement. These telephone fraudsters who are operating outside of Canada, have been targeting the Canadian public since 2014. Despite a number of police raids on illegal call centres in India, and arrests in Canada, these fraudsters continue to change their façade and target Canadians, say police.

Cumulatively between 2014 and 2020, the CRA scam alone has resulted in reported victim losses totaling over $18.5 million.  As of October 1, 2020, between the CRA, the bank investigator and tech support scams, the total reported victim losses are over $34 million. During this investigation, RCMP investigators uncovered “money mules /money mule managers”, and money launderers operating within Canada and overseas.

Charged are Vimal Shrestha, 41, and Ms. Bindisha Joshi, 41, of Lalitpur/Kathmandu, Nepal with:

• Fraud over $5,000

• Possession of proceeds of crime

• Laundering of the proceeds of crime

Canada-wide arrest warrants have been issued for both Shrestha and Ms. Joshi as they are believed to be in Nepal.

“The serious criminal charges that the two accused are facing sends a clear message:  International borders will not cloak offenders with immunity from apprehension and prosecution.  Transnational fraudsters who target Canadian victims, will be investigated, charged, and prosecuted,” said Staff-Sgt. Ken Derakhshan, acting Officer in Charge of the GTA Financial Crime Section in Milton. “The dedication and cooperation amongst international law enforcement agencies will inevitably lead to the acquisition of crucial evidence and the identification of suspects, irrespective of their location in the world.”

If someone on the phone is asking for your personal or banking information, hang up and report the activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If the caller is threatening you or your family, hang up and contact your local police. If you receive an e-mail or text message making suspicious tax claims and urging you to click on a link to submit information, don’t interact and report the occurrence to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, through its website at www.antifraudcentre.ca, or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501.