A former resident of B.C.’s Lower Mainland allegedly fled Canada after posting a $10,000 release bond following his arrest by immigration officials investigating a scam that saw victims send more than $1 million to fraudsters posing as Canada Revenue Agency employees.
Even though he is still believed to be in China, Haoran Charlie Xue, 27, was charged with nine criminal offences last month in connection with a multi-jurisdictional investigation into an organized crime group that began in 2019.
The details of Xue’s disappearance are contained in court documents filed in recent months as part of a parallel, ongoing civil battle over the proceeds of the sale of Xue’s former Burnaby, B.C., home, last assessed at $1.9 million.
B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture wants to keep the money as the proceeds of crime, claiming Xue is the real owner, despite the fact the home was registered to his father.
The RCMP’s Federal and Serious Organized Crime unit announced the charges against Xue last month.
He is accused of defrauding seven victims out of nearly $200,000, although RCMP claim the total number of Canadians taken in the group’s scam was closer to 70 and the amount they lost nearer to $1 million.
According to a copy of the charges obtained by CBC, Xue is also charged with using the stolen identities of five other people in order to commit fraud on behalf of himself and his associates.
And he allegedly posed as a man named David Franklin in order to rent a Richmond UPS box where victims were allegedly told to send their cash, police say.
‘You are just looking to talk to somebody’
One of the alleged victims named in the charges spoke with the CBC.
The Calgary woman — whom the CBC has agreed not to identify — said a man who called himself “Mark” called her in May 2019, claiming to be an officer with RBC in Toronto.
The 67-year-old said she lives alone.
“Sometimes, I think when you’re very vulnerable, you are just looking to talk to somebody, And when somebody calls, you pick up the phone to answer it, not knowing that you will face a problem with that person,” she said.
“And they are very smart at convincing you, that’s another thing. And there are people like me who get convinced. That’s my downside.”
“Mark” told her to send $15,000, she said. He appeared to know her address, directing her to a nearby UPS location.
The woman said she is now amazed a bank teller let her take out the money.
She also doesn’t understand why it took RCMP so long to complete an investigation into an accused who is now far beyond the reach of Canadian authorities.
No show for September 2019 hearing
According to the civil suit, RCMP began investigating Xue in June 2019 as part of a probe into organized crime groups posing as a software company, a bank and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees. It says victims were told to send cash and gift cards to mailboxes in B.C. and Ontario.
Court documents claim Xue transferred $1 million in and out of his bank accounts.
Investigators tailed him for several weeks and ultimately seized a cellphone that they said contained the names of victims and the addresses to which they were told to send specified amounts of money.
The RCMP arrested and released Xue in 2019. As a result of the fraud investigation, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) also began an immigration investigation.
According to court documents, the CBSA arrested Xue and then released him on a $10,000 bond pending a hearing set for September 2019.
The documents say he fled Canada around Aug. 15, 2019, about the same time his father listed the Burnaby house for sale.
‘A respected contributing member of his community’
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has issued a default order against Xue, who hasn’t filed any response to the director of civil forfeiture’s claims.
But Xue’s father — Zenggang Xue — has retained a B.C. lawyer and filed a response to both the initial claim and a recent application in pursuit of documents from banks, a real estate company and the CBSA.
Zenggang Xue said he owns a successful propane exchange business in a city 1,000 kilometres west of Beijing and that he paid for his son to come to Canada in 2012 to obtain an education at a private college.
The father said he visited Canada several times and was impressed with “the local quality of life.” He said he decided to use his savings “to accommodate his son while he attended school, generating rental income if possible to offset the mortgage, to possibly retire at this property or simply sell it on the market for profit.”
According to his court filings, Zenggang Xue was spending his summer in B.C., in 2019 when RCMP raided his home while investigating his son. He said he was unaware of the allegations before that.
“Zenggang is a respected contributing member of his community in the City of Yongji, who never engaged in, or condoned anything, that is contrary to law,” Zenggang Xue said, in his response to the civil claim.
“Zenggang and his family earned their living honestly by hard work and by their habit of savings which is the only source of funds in purchasing the house.”
The father noted there is no allegation of wrongdoing on his part and called the application for documents related to the financing of the home “a fishing expedition.”
In May, a judge sided with B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture in ordering the release of the documents in question.
The proceeds of the home will be held by the court until a trial on the merits of the civil claim is complete.
None of the criminal allegations have been proven in court.
Watch: CBC Marketplace investigates the CRA phone scam: