Vancouver - Eleven American and Canadian attorneys general agreed this weekend on an international strategy to crack down on the growing problem of telemarketing fraud.
Attorneys general from British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state met for a two-day conference on shared law enforcement and justice policy issues. The meeting was co-hosted by Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregoire and B.C. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh
Telemarketing fraud victims lose $40 billion a year, according to Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "It is estimated that 80 percent of the victims are senior citizens," Gregoire said.
"This is a growing problem and the only way we are going to stop fraudulent telemarketers from preying on people is to step up our enforcement efforts," said Gregoire.
"Telemarketing con artists will now have fewer places to run as a result of our combined resolve to put an end to their exploitation of the vulnerable in our jurisdictions," said Dosanjh.
Key elements of the strategy are:
- Finding more effective ways to unplug phone lines used by fraudulent telemarketers.
- Set up expanded and continuing joint operations to shut down fraudulent operators.
- Train investigators and prosecutors on techniques to criminally prosecute fraudulent telemarketers.
- Find new options for criminal investigations and prosecutions of telemarketing fraud.
- Share information to keep ahead of fraudulent telemarketers who move to other jurisdictions to escape justice.
The attorneys general cited as a model for their strategy a successful sting conducted jointly last November by B.C. and Washington state. The sting shut down four companies selling lottery tickets from Vancouver to other jurisdictions. The companies had bilked their victims out of $5 million (U.S.) a year.
The strategy is consistent with the U.S./ Canada task force on telemarketing fraud that reported to President Clinton and Prime Minister Chretien last year.
Dosanjh and Gregoire also agreed to meet next month in Washington state with top-level state and provincial police in the continuing fight against cross-border drug trafficking. Illegal drugs and illicit cash are increasingly crossing back and forth over our borders and along the I-5 corridor.
Other commitments at the conference included:
- Further discussion on seeking redress from tobacco companies for the devastating health costs of tobacco use.
- Greater cooperation in fighting crime on the Internet, including child pornography, hate speech, on-line harassment and stalking, pyramid schemes, telemarketing fraud, gambling, and securities fraud.
- Increased cooperation and information sharing on issues of domestic violence.
Gregoire and Dosanjh said the weekend conference highlighted the need to share information and coordinate action, especially regarding high-tech crime and drug trafficking.