Canada needs to get serious about fighting financial crimes. Frauds and scams cost Canadians billions of dollars a year and undermine their faith in legitimate businesses. Fraud reports keep increasing, while police clearance rates are falling (in absolute terms, and relative terms). I get many calls from people who are the victims of sophisticated criminals and I've heard their stories. Lawyers can't usually do much to help people. The police themselves are under-resourced and don't have the necessary technical resources to combat sophisticated criminals, who target Canadians from abroad.
A specialty police unit is the best means of targetting frauds. It's better in most cases than using securities regulators, consumer protection regulators, or other agencies that don't have the necessary experience and skills to take on modern criminals. The days of pickpockets are over. Canadians don't lose the $200 in their wallet. They lose their $500,000 retirement nest egg. The costs are staggering.
Frauds affect government ministries that serve children, hospitals, government assistance to the needy, and some even bilk Canadians by impersonating the tax authority itself.
Pig butchering scams steal from lonely people and shatter their confidence in others. In most cases, the government, lawyers, and other institutions are unable to assist.
Canadians deserve better. The losses are mounting. It seems the best path forward is to use an 18th century innovation in a modern guise: a professional and dedicated police force. A free-standing agency would have the special expertise and institutional knowledge to be able to start protecting Canadians from the international criminals who currently are hardly hindered by provincial and federal police. Improving training for existing police forces is unlikely to help because they lack the experts that are needed to tackle crime, many of whom demand significant salaries. They also lack the specialized knowledge and tools to investigate how offshore scams are conducted, and then bring the perpetrators to justice.
The federal government is working on creating a new agency called the
Canadian Financial Crimes Agency, which sounds like a great start on this problem. It remains to be seen if they will be sufficiently empowered and strong enough to take on the frauds that are sapping billions from the Canadian economy and causing significant personal hardships for many. The new CFCA is accompanied by the recently created FC3, which is aimed at anti-money laundering (AML). But AML is just one part of the picture. Stopping laundering of money is one thing, but that strategy hasn't proven to be as beneficial as it was once promised. It's probably time to return to policing the criminals as the solution, rather than trying to stop their money flows. Stopping the criminals and seizing their money can provide quick recompense to victims and perhaps even a source of funding for additional anti-crime efforts. Frauds and scams are serious, and their impact is only increasing as the world goes digital. Canadians deserve better than the status quo.