On September 22, 2011, the Competition Bureau (the Bureau) announced that charges had been laid against five individuals and four Montreal-based companies involved in an allegedly fraudulent telemarketing operation. According to the Bureau’s Backgrounder, the companies hired telemarketers to contact businesses and falsely suggest (i) that the telemarketers were regular suppliers of the businesses looking to obtain renewals for services; (ii) that purchases of medical kits were required to comply with new legislation; (iii) that an order had already been pre-authorized by someone else in the business; or (iv) that the purpose of the telemarketer’s call was to verify an address when in fact it was to obtain an order confirmation. The companies allegedly sold products which were inflated up to ten times the market value, and threatened collection actions against businesses when they refused to pay.
Based in Montreal, the telemarketing operation had allegedly targeted businesses in Canada, the United States, Europe and Central America since at least 2001. The accused individuals and companies are charged with deceptive telemarketing and misleading representations (both criminal offences) under the Competition Act, and fraud under the Criminal Code. Last year, in remarks made to the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, the Commissioner of Competition remarked that “[i]t is now clear that victims do not need to be Canadian in order for [the Bureau] to take action. This is an important step forward in the international fight against fraud.”