January 31, 2014 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau
Following a cross-border fraud investigation, Paul Price of Toronto was sentenced by a U.S. federal district court in Illinois on January 16, 2014, to 10 years in prison for his role in an advanced fee credit card scam that defrauded tens of thousands of U.S. consumers of more than US$10 million. In October 2013, the court also sentenced Mr. Price's ex-wife, Elissa Wells, to 55 months in prison for her role in the scheme.
The investigation, launched by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and conducted with the assistance of the Toronto Strategic Partnership, determined that companies operated by Mr. Price in Toronto phoned U.S. residents with credit problems claiming that the companies could provide consumers with Visa or MasterCard credit cards for an advanced fee of several hundred dollars. However, the companies had no relationship with Visa or MasterCard and none of the consumers who paid the advance fee received any type of credit card. The scheme operated from August 1999 until November 2004 when search warrants were executed at the companies’ offices by members of the Toronto Strategic Partnership.
The Bureau is one of the founding members of the Partnership, which also includes the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services, the RCMP, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Postal Service. The York Regional Police also assisted with the investigation.
The Toronto Strategic Partnership is one of seven partnerships of which the Bureau is a member that involve law enforcement agencies in Canada and the U.S. and which were formed to combat mass marketing fraud. The other partnerships are British Columbia’s Emptor Telemarketing Task Force, the Vancouver Strategic Alliance, the Alberta Partnership Against Cross Border Crime, the Saskatchewan Strategic Partnership, Quebec’s Centre of Operations Linked to Telemarketing Fraud and the Atlantic Partnership.
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The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.