On December 7, 2012, the Competition Bureau announced that charges have been laid against five individuals for violations of the Criminal Code of Canada and of the Competition Act, in relation to tactics used in two Montréal-based telemarketing operations.

The charges arose out of a 2006 investigation by the Competition Bureau in partnership with the Centre of Operations Linked to Telemarketing Fraud (COLT), a joint forces operation between a number of Canadian and American law enforcement authorities. The investigation revealed two telemarketing operations in Montréal promoting the sale of office supplies and medical kits to Canadian and American businesses that allegedly utilized misleading or fraudulent tactics, including implying that the caller represented a business that had an existing relationship with the victim’s company, indicating that certain products or services were required under government rules, or implying that the call was being made on behalf of a government agency Five individuals were charged with defrauding the public in excess of $5,000 contrary to section 380(1) of the Criminal Code. In addition, four of these individuals were charged under the Competition Act with making false or misleading representations during telemarketing calls.

Section 52.1(3) of the Competition Act is a criminal provision that prohibits making materially false or misleading representations in promoting the supply or use of a product or business interest during interactive telephone communications (telemarketing). Contraventions of the Competition Act’s telemarketing provisions carry a maximum penalty on indictment of a fine in the discretion of the court, and/or up to 14 years imprisonment.