Long arm of the law stretches across borders

Fighting cross-border fraud with Alberta’s partners

Assistant deputy minister Greg Lepp speaks at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the APACBF.

Assistant deputy minister Greg Lepp speaks at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the APACBF.

The majority of Albertans probably know a story about someone who has fallen victim to an Internet scam. We’ve all seen the emails asking for bank account details and received messages telling us to sign up and win millions. That’s why Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (JSG) is working hard alongside numerous partners to help crack down on fraud.

The Alberta Government plays a key role in the Alberta Partnership Against Cross Border Fraud (APACBF), which was set up to tackle crooked schemes, including Canadian telemarketers targeting American consumers. This year, the partnership is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

APACBF coordinates law enforcement activities and identifies fraudulent and misleading marketing practices. The partners engage in joint investigations and meet quarterly to share information, and further strengthen strategies and techniques. Members include Service Alberta, the Canadian Competition Bureau, Edmonton Police Service, Calgary Police Service, the RCMP, Canada Post, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General and the U.S. Department of Justice provide support.

At JSG, Greg Lepp is the assistant deputy minister of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service. He has been a Crown prosecutor since 1988, and has handled some of the largest white collar crimes in the province’s history.

“We must continue to do everything we possibly can to bring deceptive marketers to justice,” said Lepp. “They prey on a vulnerable section of society and I’ve seen cases where their scams have ruined lives.”

Alberta’s law enforcement agencies decided to take action soon after Project PhoneBusters, Canada’s national deceptive telemarketing call centre, reported a $20-million loss by Americans at the hands of deceptive Canadian telemarketers. At that time, in 2002, successful law enforcement efforts in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec resulted in scammers setting up operations in other Canadian jurisdictions, including Alberta. So in September 2003, APACBF was established, and it is now one of four similar partnerships across Canada.

“It is important for Canadian law enforcement to deal with fraud artists targeting American victims,” said Alberta Government Services Minister David Coutts at the time. “We will not allow Alberta to become a safe haven for these deceptive businesses. Their scams can hurt the reputation of all Alberta companies doing business in the States.”

More information on fraud awareness.

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