Telemarketing Software Featured Article

Thunder Bay Residents Subject to Telemarketing Extortion Scams

November 28, 2017
By Mandi Nowitz - Web Editor

Disrupting dinner was one thing, but now, scammers have taken the operations to a whole other level. While many are quick to point the finger at the telemarketing industry, the real culprits are scammers posing as telemarketers, often using software designed for legitimate business marketing purposes.  As is that case all too often with technology, good solutions are put to unethical uses by criminal organizations.  In Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, it’s turned into an attempt to use scare tactics to extort money from citizens, and authorities are issuing warnings.

Targets receive calls from scammers, claiming to be a representative of an organization, in this instance the Canada Revenue Agency. The caller has one goal: to frighten the person on the other end by saying that they owe a large amount of money or that the police are on their way. An arrest is threatened due to supposed debts, but there is a way to put these debts to bed.

Callers will say the debt can be erased through by turning over gift cards to prominent retailers; more so, the target is told to purchase the gift cards then share all the information with the caller. The scammer can then use the gift card or for resale. This is not normal or common practice whatsoever and the Thunder Bay Police Service wants citizens to know this.

The Canada Revenue Agency, utility companies, financial institutions, or any reputable business, for that matter, would ever ask for a payment in the value of a gift card.  This is not proper business protocol and should raise an immediate red flag. It is happening all over the country; callers are phoning targets, claiming they are from the government or IRS in an attempt to extort funds from unknowing parties.

In June, a Pennsylvania man, Hiteshkumar Patel was arrested for conducting a scam in which he had people act as Internal Revenue Service agents. The victims were threatened with wage garnishment, feds knocking on the door, employer notification, or arrest if they did pay the callers through the mail or wire transfer. Patel and his people extorted a couple hundred thousand dollars from the unknowing victims.

There are ways to protect yourself: call the FCC, register with the Do Not Call Registry, contact the company the caller claims to represent, and contact the police. This is a direct form of harassment that is unnecessary and illegal.  In fact, by alerting the authorities, you are also doing you part in ensuring legitimate telemarketing efforts – some of which you may actually want to receive – will be more successful.

Edited by Erik Linask