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Canada Falls Victim To Kyiv, Investment Scams Target Citizens

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As missiles rain down and cities lie in ruin, Ukraine fights valiantly against Russian aggression. Canada has risen as a leading ally, pledging billions in military and humanitarian aid. But even as we arm Ukraine’s defenders, it seems Ukraine hasn’t reciprocated in kind.

A shocking exposé reveals Ukrainian fraudsters have unleashed a relentless wave of scams targeting Canada. They coldly drain the savings of our most vulnerable citizens to line their own pockets.

How can we justify aiding those who would swindle us? With democratic values in the balance, this grand irony exposes cracks beneath the surface of our alliance. Our generosity requires mutual honor and accountability.

Now Canada must balance resolute support for a struggling nation with demands for justice closer to home. As ideals clash with reality, we confront difficult truths about trust, sacrifice and the limits of an alliance.

As Canada commits billions in aid to Ukraine, some Ukrainians are accused of scamming Canadians instead of helping their own people.

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed on Feb 24 2024 a $3 billion security deal with Ukraine, a whistleblower claims hundreds of fraudulent call centers have popped up in Ukraine, run by criminal groups who steal millions from Canadians through investment scams.

The scams start with fake social media ads featuring Trudeau or other Canadian celebrities endorsing too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities. Victims are connected to “financial advisors” in Eastern Europe who manipulate them to hand over their life savings to phony trading platforms.

Whistleblower

The whistleblower says scammers in Ukraine can earn over $2000 USD monthly, preying on isolated, older victims by gaining their trust. Some ads even promise bonuses for stealing from Canadians specifically.

This comes as Trudeau signed a landmark $3 billion security agreement with Ukraine, pledging long-term economic and military aid against Russia. But while helping arm Ukraine, Canada seems unable or unwilling to stop fraudsters robbing its own citizens under the guise of Ukrainian identities.

The deal aims to show solidarity and support Ukraine’s future security, casting the war as a fight for democracy itself. However, the ongoing scams also undermine Canadian’s trust in Ukraine’s commitment to democratic values and accountability.

As Canada generously aids Ukraine, it must also protect its own citizens and prosecute transnational fraud, wherever it originates.

Ukrainians face an existential threat from Russia’s invasion, needing substantial allies like Canada. Yet continued corruption and tolerance of scams against Canadians risk eroding public support for that aid. For the deal’s lofty democratic goals to succeed, Ukraine must also show it shares Canada’s intolerance for those who would exploit this crisis against vulnerable citizens.

Cybersecurity

Canadians are falling victim to sophisticated international scams at an alarming rate, with a disproportionate number originating from Ukraine. Yet there has been little meaningful crackdown by Canadian authorities on these fraudulent operations that are stealing millions from trusting citizens.

Experts say Canada’s sluggish response is enabling the scammers to operate with near impunity, emboldening them to target more Canadians and increase their haul. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians lost over $300 million to online scams last year alone, with cryptocurrency investment fraud among the most prevalent.

“Canada is seen as a soft target,” said Mark Solomons, a senior investigator at IFW Global, an Australian private investigative firm specializing in fraud recovery. “These criminals love Canada. Canadians are friendly, open to other cultures, and have relatively large nest eggs. They are juicy targets.”

In addition to its affluence and trusting nature, Canada’s deficiencies in investigating and prosecuting international fraud have made it a preferred mark. Roadblocks include limited intelligence-sharing between law enforcement agencies, inadequate resources and training for complex financial crimes, and a lack of international cooperation.

“Too much Canadian bureaucracy and too little law enforcement intelligence-sharing has led to very few actual investigations,” said Solomons. “This money is being sucked out of the Canadian economy and sent to criminals in other countries. It can be stopped if a sufficient deterrent message is sent.”

Trudeau’s $ 3 billion is not the only support Canada has given to Ukraine, additionally Trudea’s government has funded Ukraine $ 75 million. The breakdown of this additional support is for 45 million to  demining assistance and cyber resilience and 35 million from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to support intelligence collection. Included also the $ 4 million Gender-inclusive demining for sustainable futures, which means that Trudeau is injecting woke ideas in the middle of an intense war.

 How is it that Canada supports Ukraine in cyber resilience and intelligence collections while Ukrainian scammers are looting the life savings of our citizens without a worry from repercussions. Such haste and blind support should immediately halt and funding should be conditional that such scams should disappear from Canadian life. 

While Canada has significant capability to investigate crimes within its borders, cross-border financial crimes present a far greater challenge. And when the majority of scammers reside overseas, efforts to recover funds or prosecute offenders require international coordination.

Ukraine has become a global hub for cybercrime and fraud, with organized groups running sophisticated transnational scams from the country with little interference from authorities. While Ukraine seeks to integrate with the West and touts its IT sector as a rare bright spot, corruption and state capture have hobbled law enforcement capabilities.

Trudeau’s failure to pressure Ukraine allows scammers to target Canadians with impunity while undermining the rule of law. Furthermore, illicit proceeds flowing into Ukraine from scams against Western nations risk compromising national security.

Ukraine portrays itself as a bulwark against Russia, but is doing next to nothing to stop large-scale criminality and fraud against the very nations supporting it. This compromises Ukraine’s institutions, finances armed conflict, and necessitates a coordinated international response.”

International cooperation

Yet Canadian authorities have been unwilling to exert diplomatic pressure or dedicate investigative resources. The RCMP, which handles transnational crimes, did not respond to a request for comment on Ukrainian fraud networks. Nor did Foreign Affairs or Public Safety ministries tasked with international security.

Canada must confront the contradictions in its Ukraine policy. It provides Ukraine billions in military and development aid while ignoring the compromises to democracy and rule of law from homegrown corruption and organised crime.

With little push-back, Ukrainians now orchestrate a sizeable portion of scams against Canadians. The country’s highly educated workforce, technical expertise and language skills have made it a hub for tech support, dating, and cryptocurrency investment schemes.

“We constantly see large fraud operations tracing back to Ukraine targeting Canadian victims specifically,” said Solomons, who helps victims recoup stolen funds. “Yet Canadian authorities rarely follow up, allowing them to scale up without consequence.”

Limited coordination between enforcement bodies domestically and unwillingness to work jointly with foreign agencies also undermine fraud prevention and asset recovery.

Canada has no centralized bureau to investigate financial crimes across jurisdictions and no national corporate ownership registry to pierce anonymity. This makes tracing funds across borders highly difficult.

Canada must also strengthen partnerships with foreign governments from whom it requests legal assistance in fraud cases. But building this cooperation, especially with countries that turn a blind eye to scammers like Ukraine, requires difficult diplomacy Canada has so far avoided.

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