Police forces in B.C. are starved for resources at the best of times.
But when it comes to large-scale fraud and financial crimes, we have reason to worry that they are seriously underequipped to deal with the con artists who are preying on people, financial institutions, businesses, and even charities in this province.
The most recent data we have shows a high level of vacancies in major fraud units, much higher than the average across the province.
Six- and seven-figure fraud may not be an immediate concern to the average middle class citizen, who may worry more about violent crime, gang shootings, or having their catalytic converter stolen.
But large-scale fraud picks everyone’s pockets.
Whether it’s banks passing along the costs of million-dollar schemes to their customers in the form of fees, or folks trying to buy a home and losing their life savings to a real estate fraud, from a charity having its treasury looted to embezzlement at major corporations and local governments, we all wind up paying the costs in the end.
Despite how serious fraud can be, and multiple recent high-profile incidents here in Langley, and around the Lower Mainland, we know very little about how frauds are investigated.
We do know there are no dedicated units at the highest levels of federal RCMP investigations in B.C. set up to deal with bank fraud, with embezzlement, with romance scams pyramid schemes. While money laundering through B.C.’s casinos and other venues has rightly consumed a lot of public attention, there are many avenues that con artists will use to bilk people of their money.
The RCMP as a force needs to open up its major investigative divisions, including those looking into financial crimes such as fraud and money laundering, to public scrutiny.
Fraud thrives on secrecy. The RCMP has to respond with openness.