Companies linked to an international scam involving a non-existent sweepstakes have forfeited $101,403 to the Province of British Columbia, which now wants to reunite the victims with their money.
In August 2016, Port Moody Police referred a file to the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) concerning a criminal organization with international ties targeting U.S. citizens in a lottery-sweepstakes scam. The scam involved callers who, using pseudonyms, contacted “winners” of a purported US$1.5-million prize and urged them to wire tens of thousands of dollars to cover taxes due in order to claim their winnings. At least five victims in the United States have filed police reports relating to the circumstances. The police investigation is ongoing and, currently, there are no suspects.
The CFO has tracked down and secured forfeiture of bank accounts linked to the scam, in the names of CNM Communications Inc. and Easy Padala Inc. Having contacted known victims to provide them with compensation applications, the CFO now is advertising in the U.S., asking victims whose identities are unknown to get in touch. The extent of reimbursement will be limited to the amount recovered and depend on the number and value of valid claims received. Details of how victims can apply to share in the proceeds of this recent forfeiture are at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/crime-prevention/civil-forfeiture-office/grants-compensation/victim-compensation/victims-of-cnm-communications-inc-or-easy-padala-inc
Anyone who believes they have been defrauded under similar circumstances should contact their local police.
Operational since spring 2006, the CFO works to undermine the profit motive behind unlawful activity by taking away tools and proceeds of that activity. The vast majority of cases the office pursues have links to drug, gang and organized crime.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris –
“A guiding principle of our civil forfeiture program is meeting the interests of justice. Most often, our forfeiture victories take away from drug, gang and organized criminals and allow us to fund a variety of crime prevention programs that help make our communities safer. Occasionally, though, our program also provides an opportunity to reunite victims with money that’s legitimately theirs.”
Port Moody Police Department chief constable Chris Rattenbury –
“It’s always rewarding to reunite victims with their property or money, and this case proves that civil forfeiture can be a valuable tool in facilitating that, when the assets involved aren’t readily available for police to simply return to the victims.”
- B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Act allows the Province to reimburse eligible victims of fraud or unlawful activity who have a direct connection to property forfeited in a specific case.
- This particular case brings to $1.6 million the total amount returned to specific victims impacted by fraud and other unlawful activity over the CFO’s 11-year history.
- In addition, the program has returned more than $26 million in grants to support anti-gang outreach to youth, the prevention of violence against vulnerable women and other crime prevention projects.
Read about previous cases where the CFO reunited specific victims of unlawful activity with some or all of their lost funds:
CFO website: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/civilforfeiture/
Annual lists of civil forfeiture grant recipients: