Mass Marketing Fraud Incidents Drop, Dollars Lost Increase

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Author: Kevin Douglas

In Canada in 2012, government statistics reveal that reports of Mass Marketing Fraud incidents decreased to 41,496 from 51,947 in 2010. However, the total dollar amount reported lost in 2012 was about $76 million, up from approximately $59 million in 2010.

Mass Marketing Fraud are large scale scams which use mass media such as telephone, Internet and regular or electronic mail to deceive individuals into willingly transferring money or information to the perpetrator, who then uses it for personal gain or false pretenses. Examples include the Nigerian or 419 fraud where the victim must pay "advance fees" before a larger sum of money can be released to them from an international source, and the Emergency or Grandparent fraud where a phone call or email requests funds to help a friend or family member escape some kind of trouble in a foreign country. Mass Marketing Fraud can also involve loans, jobs, prizes, merchandise, services or payment for merchandise for sale by the victim, as well as other, less common angles. Worldwide, the most common means of contact is by telephone, but in Canada, e-mail is most frequently used. The majority of incidents of Canadian Mass Marketing Fraud are reported in Ontario, with Toronto being the city most often cited as the genesis of the activity.

The difference between legal and fraudulent transactions, a Kostman & Pyzer toronto fraud lawyer explains, is that the victims of fraud base their decisions on incorrect or incomplete information. In many cases, the Crown can and will prosecute an individual for both fraud and theft, but first, the Crown prosecutor must prove that the accused was, in fact, the individual who acted fraudulently and also that the accused intended to cause the fraud. As a result, an experienced lawyer may use mistaken identity, intoxication or lack of guilty knowledge as successful defences. Circumstantial evidence and witness statements can combine to raise questions about the reliability of the evidence itself and the manner in which it was collected. The Crown must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that fraud occurred and this can be a daunting task.

Public awareness is lowering the number of incidents of Mass Marketing Fraud, but the various scenarios that may constitute illegal actions require expert handling to ensure successful resolution. Seeking the advice of a lawyer will facilitate an understanding of the challenges of each unique situation and provide effective strategies toward attaining the best possible outcome.

The author of this article is affiliated with Kostman & Pyzer Barristers Toronto Criminal Lawyers, a criminal defence law firm serving clients in the Greater Toronto area and elsewhere in the province of Ontario.

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