Extortion scam ‘terrorizing’ South Asians leads Brampton Mayor Brown to urge action from Ottawa


Published January 16, 2024 at 12:52 pm

brampton shooting suspect armed
Peel police are looking to identify a possibly armed man after a Brampton business was shot up in Brampton. (Photo: Peel Regional Police)

“Terrorizing our residents will not be tolerated.”

That’s the message Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown is sending to Ottawa, calling on the federal government to help police agencies across Canada crack down on violent extortion scams threatening South Asian communities.

Peel Regional Police sounded the alarm about the scam in December, warning the public about a “disturbing trend” of attempted extortions and  Brampton businesses being threatened and targeted.

The scam starts with a phone call or social media message from fraudsters demanding protection money, and in some cases has escalated to violence. Police say these types of scams are common in India, and there have been multiple South Asian businesses and residents targeted in Canada.

At least nine incidents in Brampton are under investigation, including one where multiple gunshots were fired at a business near Rutherford Road South and Clark Boulevard last month.

With Peel police, the RCMP and other agencies investigating similar incidents across Canada, Mayor Brown and Surrey, B.C., Mayor Brenda Locke have penned a letter to Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc calling for “a more comprehensive strategy” and a “unified approach to tackle this issue.”

“These incidents have instilled fear in our communities and highlight the urgent need for a coordinated response involving multiple jurisdictions,” reads the letter from Brown and Locke.

The mayors are asking the federal government to take “a leading role” in the investigation and “spearhead a coordinated response that ensures the safety and security of all affected communities across Canada.”

Peel police launched an Extortion Investigative Task Force following the shooting incident in Brampton following the arrest of a 23-year-old man from Abbotsford.

Police are still looking for a second person linked to the shooting, described as a South Asian man of medium build wearing a grey sweatshirt at the time of the incident. He later changed into a black sweatshirt with a white X on the back, police said

Police say to call 911 and not to approach the suspect as he may be armed.

Residents who receive these threats should call police in their home jurisdiction immediately and not give in to any demands, police said.

Anyone with information regarding this matter is asked to contact the Extortion Investigative Task Force at (905) 453-2121, ext. 2133 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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