Police raid towing companies accused of fraud
Montreal police cracked down on tow truck companies in Montreal, Laval, Longueuil and Chateauguay on Wednesday morning.
Police said they arrested 18 people after carrying out 23 search warrants. They are expected to be charged with crimes including theft, fraud and extortion when they appear in court Thursday.
Officers said the companies involved, including Remorquage Taxi Montreal, were illegally towing vehicles on a massive scale. Some owners and tow-truck drivers were arrested. One of the people arrested is connected to the Hells Angels, said Cmdr. Nicodemo Milano of the Montreal police.
Police raided the St-Leonard offices of Remorquage Taxi Montreal at 6 a.m., and there were other raids carried out on the South Shore and in Laval, where homes and vehicles were searched. They seized seven firearms.
The investigation into the alleged fraud has been ongoing since 2014 and was based on customer complaints. Police say there have been 200 victims so far.
Pompeo D'Avella said he's a victim of the scheme. When his car was towed illegally last year, he said the tow truck driver would not tell him where his car was until he handed over his Visa card number.
“I said, ‘I have a bill from Tim Hortons, I can prove the time and the fact that we bought breakfast.’ He didn't care, he just didn't want to hear it and just refused to give the location,” he said.
Milano said that's exactly how this tow truck company allegedly operated.
“Basically a citizen would be driving his car and he would, for example, drive in a parking lot of a hospital,” he said, adding that when the driver exited the hospital, his car was gone.
After calling the number on the yellow RTM sign, a tow truck driver would quickly appear.
“And he would, in return for a cash payment, usually a cash payment which varied between $65 and tax and an undisclosed amount, the tow truck driver would give the location where the vehicle was towed. That constitutes in the Criminal Code as a theft,” said Milano.
Montreal police worked with Longueil and Laval police as well as the SQ and Revenue Quebec on the case.
They are encouraging anyone who thinks they were victimized to contact them at at their local police station, or to call Info-Crime at 514-393-1133.