Ontario Takes Action Against Stunt Driving and Street Racing
Proposed legislation would also strengthen provincial oversight of the towing sector
TORONTO – The Ontario government is taking strong action to protect road users against unsafe and aggressive driving with the introduction of the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, 2021, also known as the MOMS Act. The proposed legislation will introduce new measures to combat high-risk driving and improve road safety, including longer driver’s licence suspensions and longer vehicle impoundment periods for drivers who engage in stunt driving, street racing and aggressive driving. The Ontario government introduced the MOMS Act in the legislature earlier today. If passed by the legislature, the MOMS Act would also introduce measures to protect vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and highway workers, improve truck safety and strengthen the province’s oversight of the towing sector by creating the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021. This Act would require tow operators, tow truck drivers and vehicle storage operators to be certified, and set new standards for customer protection and roadside behaviours, including penalties for non-compliance. “The MOMS Act targets the worst actors on our roads by creating escalating suspensions for repeat offenders and setting a lower speed threshold for stunt driving charges on municipal roads,” said Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA). “With this Act, we are taking concrete action to protect people and families on our roads.”
The number of driver’s licence suspensions issued at roadside for street racing/stunt driving increased 130 per cent between 2013 and 2019.
Roadside driver’s licence suspensions for street racing/stunt driving increased an additional 52 per cent between March and August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Nearly five per cent of drivers suspended during this period had one or more previous suspensions in the previous five years. Young drivers aged 16-25 represented only 19 per cent of drivers involved in collisions between March and June 2020 but 42 per cent of drivers involved in collisions with a police-recorded speed of 50 kilometres per hour (km/h) or more above the posted limit.
If You Suspect an Overdose, Please Stay and Make That 911 Call for Emergency Assistance
(MIDLAND, ON)- Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been recently tasked to investigate a number of drug related deaths in our communities. Although responding officers are trained in the use of Naloxone and have the on scene support of area Paramedic and Fire Services, not all lives have been saved in these incidents. Since early 2017, an opioid overdose crisis has been sweeping across Canada, and our region has not been immune to this crisis. Addiction to opioids, and especially the increasing use of fentanyl, is an urgent public health situation in our communities.
Detachment members would like to raise opioid public awareness with a focus on the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA). Observers of an overdose may hesitate to call 9-1-1 in fear of police involvement. To encourage people to seek life-saving assistance, the OPP is reminding citizens of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA). The GSDOA provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose.
The Act protects the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave from the overdose scene before help arrives, as well as anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives. In 2019, the OPP created posters, information cards and community safety videos to help educate the public and community agencies. These resources, as well as other additional information about the GSDOA, can be found by visiting: www.opp.ca/overdose and OPP social media accounts.
The OPP is upholding its commitment to the Ontario Mobilization and Engagement Model of Community Policing and is using a collaborative approach to help disseminate this public awareness campaign. Numerous OPP detachments are partnering with other organizations in their community to help the OPP better connect with those directly impacted by this Act.
The GSDOA does provide protection against charges for:
• Possessing drugs for your own use; and
• Violating conditions of your parole, bail, probation or conditional sentence for a simple drug possession charge.
The GSDOA does not provide protection against charges for:
•Trafficking illegal drugs;
• Offences other than drug possession;
• Any outstanding arrest warrants; and
• Violating conditions of your parole, bail, probation or conditional sentence for an offence that is not simple possession.
Opioid overdoses continue to claim the lives of thousands of people across Ontario and Canada. The statistics and numbers below do not capture the profound distress being felt by those impacted.
● In 2019, 3,823 lives were lost in Canada due to opioid related overdoses.
● In 2019, more than 21,000 suspected opioid-related overdoses occurred in Canada.
An overdose is preventable. Knowing the real facts about drugs and what to do when you see someone experiencing an overdose DOES save lives. “The opioid crisis does not discriminate and affects people from all walks of life in our communities. If you witness an overdose – do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 in fear of legal repercussions, please stay and make that 911 call for emergency assistance” – Inspector Joseph Evans, Interim Detachment Commander, Southern Georgian Bay OPP
For more information and please view the following links from our community partners, Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit, , www.canada.ca/opioids , Administering Naloxone Nasal Spray
OPP Execute Search Warrant in Tiny Township
Investigation Leads to Discovery of Sophisticated Cannabis Grow Operation
(TINY TOWNSHIP, ON) – Uniform members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) attended a farm on Concession Road 6 East, Tiny Township at 11:16 a.m. April 19, 2021 to investigate a number of complaints from area residents of a possible cannabis grow operation. Officers located several buildings on the property with signs of a cannabis grow operation in progress and requested assistance from the detachment Community Street Crime Unit (CSCU). Further investigation resulted in the Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET) being contacted to lead the investigation that resulted in a Cannabis Act search warrant being executed on April 20, 2021 at the property.
Investigators discovered a professional, high-quality installation that was in the process of growing a large number of cannabis plants in various stages of development along with further mass production facilities were in the process of being constructed.
9207 Cannabis plants
80 lbs of Cannabis bud
a loaded and insecure .22 calibre rifle
At this time no charges have been issued and the investigation continues.
Investigators also wish to warn of the mold related health risk issues often found in buildings used as grow operations.
FIREARMS, EXPLOSIVES AND QUANTITIES OF COCAINE AND ILLEGAL CANNABIS SEIZED AFTER EIGHT-MONTH INVESTIGATION
Additional arrest made as a result of Project WEAVER
(ORILLIA, ON) – One additional individual has been charged under the Criminal Code after a review of evidence gathered from the Project WEAVER search warrants executed in March, 2021.
On March 18, 2021 the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and its partner agencies announced the results of an eight-month investigation into firearms and drug trafficking in southwestern Ontario. Project WEAVER saw 11 search warrants executed on March 9, 2021 resulting in the arrest of 10 individuals for 268 charges. Significant seizures of firearms, explosives, cocaine and cannabis were made.
Police executed another search warrant in London on March 12, 2021 resulting in the arrest of one individual for four offences, and the seizure of more than $1.8 million in illegal cannabis and cannabis products.
After careful review of evidence from the warrants executed in March, 2021 the investigative team have grounds to lay additional charges against one individual. Matthew STRACHAN, age 34 of Barrie has been charged with the following offences:
Making or possession of explosives – S. 82(1) of the Criminal Code
Weapons Trafficking – S. 99 of the Criminal Code
Weapons Trafficking (Manufacture) – S. 99 of the Criminal Code
Possession of firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized – S. 92(1) of the Criminal Code
Possession of prohibited device knowing it is unauthorized – S. 92(2) of the Criminal Code
Possession of prohibited firearm with ammunition – S. 95 (b) of the Criminal Code
Failure to comply with Undertaking – S. 145(4)(a) of the Criminal Code
The accused was held in custody and had a first appearance on April 22, 2021 at an Ontario Court of Justice in London.
OPP Traffic Officers Busy Stopping Motorists on Area Roadways for Speed and Cell Phone Related Offences
(MIDLAND, On)- Members of the Southern Georgian Bay detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been paying attention to complaints from the public called into the OPP Communications Centre about speeding vehicles on area roadways. Officers participating in traffic related enforcement during the month of March 2021 provided 259 hours of dedicated traffic patrol resulting in 127 speeding offences with one charge of “Stunt Driving” (driving over 50 kilometres over the posted limit) along with nine cell phone related offences and 45 drivers were warned to pay closer attention to posted speed limits.
To date in the month of April officers have provided 93 hours of dedicated traffic patrol resulting in 53 speeding offences with 18 charges of “Stunt Driving” along with 40 cell phone related offences and 56 drivers were spoken to about following the correct speed limit.
Speeding along with other offences under the Highway Traffic Act carry licence suspensions some of which are issued on the spot along with automatic vehicle impoundment. For more information please click on the following Ministry of Transportation link- (ADLS) .
Alarm Sounds On Danger of QR Codes
Remember when, a few years ago, we reported: “QR code scams are in their early days, but as more and more organizations see the benefit of using these codes, expect the crooks to exploit the same opportunity too.” (See https://scambusters.org/qrcode.html)
Maybe you don’t recall our warning. But that’s exactly what’s happened, with new alerts about how these scannable “Quick Response” black-and-white boxes of dots and squares are now being used to trick more victims than ever into giving away confidential information or downloading malware.
Furthermore, Internet security experts say the QR scam situation is steadily getting worse and is likely to continue to do so.
The trouble is that so many of us are used to scanning these graphical shapes with our smartphones precisely because they’re such a darned convenient way of connecting to websites or downloading information.
And one of the main reasons for the current surge is the change in our social behavior because of the current health crisis.
More businesses are using them in place of printed matter, like brochures, because that means consumers don’t have to touch them.
According to one of the latest reports, from security software firm MobileIron, 72 percent of consumers polled said they’d scanned a QR code during one single month, with the vast proportion saying they did so because it “made life easier.”
And almost half of consumers admitted they still use QRs despite knowing the concerns about their security.
“The study also revealed that many people lack security on their mobile devices and are largely unaware of the security risks posed by QR codes,” the firm said.
“A whopping 47% of respondents stated they do not have or do not know if they have security software installed on their mobile devices.”
Worse, more than a third of users actually say they’re not worried about security when they scan one of these code boxes.
As we reported in our earlier issue, creating a QR code scam is easy. The codes can be generated quickly using free software. The crooks then produce stickers to place on top of genuine codes, leading users to fake or compromised websites.
However, the growing popularity of these graphics has led to much wider use — for example to reveal your location, follow social media accounts, create an email, restaurant menus, join a Wi-Fi network or even to cast a vote.
Many users are totally unaware of these extra abilities. In fact, 40 percent of people surveyed said they’d be happy to vote by scanning a code.
So, if you don’t follow precautions and you don’t have security software, you could be heading for a costly scam the next time you scan.
Security experts says businesses are not doing enough to improve the way they present these codes and to alert users to potential dangers. But consumers can also play their part.
Five Key Steps
Here’s an updated version of the five key steps you can take, as we outlined in our earlier issue:
Don’t scan codes that don’t have any text or explanation with them.
Check for a raised edge on the code showing it’s a sticker. Again, don’t scan unless you check with someone — for example at a restaurant that may have updated its menu.
If the code takes you to a website, don’t provide any confidential information until you know for sure it’s genuine.
If scanning results in something you didn’t expect, like opening an email, don’t use it.
Use a secure QR code reader that checks its validity. There are lots of free ones. Simply search for “secure QR code scanner” or something similar.
You can find a useful consumer guide from security firm Cyclonis at: https://tinyurl.com/Scambusters-210408-1
Though it’s mainly aimed at businesses, you can also download a free eBook from MobileIron at: https://tinyurl.com/Scambusters-210408-2
As the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) advises: “Consumers need to be aware of QR Code security threats. The more people protect themselves, the harder it will be for identity thieves to succeed in hacking people using QR Codes.”
Alert of the Week
You’ve probably read about the recent disclosure that details of more than 500 million Facebook subscribers have been leaked on the Internet.
The info apparently doesn’t include passwords, but does include things like names, email addresses, and phone numbers from a couple of years ago.
The data wasn’t hacked but rather “scraped” by crooks from public profiles on the social media site.
You can check if your email address (and possibly your phone number) has been revealed here: https://tinyurl.com/Scambusters-210408-3 But this won’t tell you if other info has been revealed.
There’s not much individual users can do about this but it serves as a warning about not making your personal info available on social media sites, although Facebook says it fixed this particular problem in 2019.
How Eyeglasses Rules Protect You From Prescription Scams
How is your vision — clear enough to tell if you’re being scammed when buying your eyeglasses?
Trouble is, there’s quite a lot of profit to be made from eyeglass lenses and frames, especially those with a designer label attached.
And in the past, most of us kind of got used to buying our new eyeglasses at the same place we had our eyes examined. Plus, maybe we felt a little uncomfortable asking for a prescription that we could take elsewhere.
The result is that some prescribing eye doctors (ophthalmologists) haven’t even been providing a prescription, leaving customers to feel like captives
Meanwhile, the eyeglasses market has actually become extremely competitive because of the growth in online services, offering lenses and frames at a considerable discount.
Of course, there’s an argument for saying that you need a personal service to ensure your glasses fit correctly, but that still leaves you with the option of visiting other eyewear providers to compare prices.
In fact, your eye care prescriber is legally required to give you a complete prescription, whether you ask for one or not. It’s also illegal for a prescriber to stipulate that you must agree to buy your eyeglasses from them before they will conduct your examination.
“You can use your prescription to buy eyeglasses wherever they are sold — from another prescriber, a store, or online,” says the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
“Cost, quality, and supply can vary a lot from seller to seller, so it pays to shop around for the best deal.”
Just recently, the FTC sent out warning letters to more than two dozen ophthalmic practitioners saying they may have broken the law — the Ophthalmic Practice Rules, better known as the Eyeglass Rule. The latest version of the rule became effective last October.
In addition to stipulating that the doctor must give you a prescription, the rule says they also are not allowed to charge an additional fee for this, though they are permitted, under certain conditions, to ask for a payment for the actual exam before handing over the prescription.
They also cannot ask you to sign a liability waiver or release as a condition of handing over the prescription. And they must present you with your prescription after completion of the exam, not some time later.
You, or another eyeglass supplier, can request an additional copy of your prescription, which the prescriber must supply within 40 business hours — usually the equivalent of five business days.
Similar rules are also in place for contact lenses; some of the prescribers warned by the FTC about not following the eyeglasses rules were also warned about not following the contact regulations.
Some optometrists have been known to say they can’t supply a prescription because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) but this is not true, says the Commission.
For more information on the rules, see Understanding Your Prescription Rights for Glasses and Contact Lenses.
Note: An ophthalmologist is a medically qualified doctor, while an optometrist is not. An optometrist may carry out certain tests and help you with ordering and fitting glasses, but only an ophthalmologist can provide an eye health diagnosis.
Online Eyeglass Scams and Risks
As we mentioned earlier, many eyeglass wearers are turning to the Internet to fill their prescriptions. Although there are many legitimate suppliers online, shoppers are also at risk of being scammed by unqualified or dubious suppliers.
Many of these are located abroad, out of reach of US consumer laws. And some of them make outrageous claims about breakthrough technology that make their products better than others or even improve eyesight to the point where glasses are no longer needed. There’s no scientific evidence to support these claims.
It’s common also, as in most retail situations, for suppliers to set high suggested retail prices and then offer seemingly dramatically low prices. This is a well-known sales tactic, and usually within the law, but it underlines the importance of making price comparisons.
Other online eyeglass problems include: fake designer-label frames; hidden extra costs; failure to follow prescriptions accurately; non-existent customer service.
One big question is whether or not you should actually get your eyes “examined” online. Some providers are perfectly legitimate but others may not be licensed or accredited.
In general, the American Optometric Association (AOA) does not support online testing, reporting in one case that an eye disease was not identified during an online exam.
“While there are some great technologies out there, there’s absolutely no substitution for a full, in-person comprehensive eye examination, and we have to watch out for unethical technologies and services that take advantage of people,” says AOA consultant Andrew Morgenstern.
The respected WebMD medical site points out that online vision tests only do that — test your vision. They don’t and mostly can’t check the health of your eyes. (For more on this, see Can I Test My Vision Online?)
If you’re shopping for eyeglasses or contact lenses online, take the following 5 steps to reduce the risk of being scammed:
Check the provider’s official credentials and accreditation, whether they are US-based or abroad.
Check the reputation of the provider through a regular search engine like Google or Bing, using the name of the firm and words like “complaint” or “scam.”
Establish the firm’s returns policy and insured shipping arrangements.
As with all retail products, beware of outrageously low prices. They usually signal a scam.
Beware of online vision testers who claim to be able to check the health of your eyes. They mainly can’t.
An estimated one quarter of the world’s population wear corrective lenses of one sort or another. That makes eyewear extremely big business. Your eyes are too precious to put at risk for the sake of a supposed bargain or apparent convenience.
Alert of the Week
Did you know that during the current health crisis, you can get free weekly credit reports from the three big reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and Transunion?
The three just announced they’re extending the free service until April next year. But make sure you go the correct site to get your info: AnnualCreditReport.com. Beware of pretenders who will either charge you or steal your confidential information.
Crown, OPP fail to stop $16.5M lawsuit by former brewery owner
‘It’s become a rather strange approach. You can’t prove your case criminally, so you then try to seize assets civilly,’ says lawyer
Plants growing inside Fermentation Vat (2)
When police raided the former Molson brewery in 2004, they found what they described as the largest indoor marijuana grow facility in Canadian history. The former owners of the Molson brewery property in Barrie — where the country’s largest indoor marijuana grow operation was discovered in 2004 — have the go-ahead to move forward with their $16.5-million lawsuit against the federal government and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). In the latest twist following a decade of legal wrangling, an Ontario Court of Appeal panel has unanimously upheld a lower court’s finding that the limitation period had not expired for the malicious prosecution lawsuit filed by Fercan Developments Inc. and GRVN Group Inc., dismissing the Crown’s attempt to put an end to the case. Lawyer Brian Greenspan says it’s no longer about Fercan and its owner’s insistence that he had nothing to do with the illegal grow-op in which his brother and others were convicted. “It’s not just our claim anymore. There’s been a determinative finding that the Crown engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, (and) should never have brought the application for forfeiture,” Greenspan, one of the lawyers representing Fercan, said shortly after the appeal court released the decision Thursday.
On Jan. 10, 2004, police uncovered “one of the largest and most sophisticated indoor marijuana-growing operations in Canadian history” in the 450,000-square-foot former brewery alongside Highway 400 in Barrie’s south end. Inside they found 20,000 plants, 300 pounds of cannabis and extensive growing equipment located behind concrete block walls, which was all protected by a series of locked doors and surveillance equipment. Nine people were arrested. Fercan had purchased the 35-acre site three years earlier and was developing a coffee and a bottled water business on the site and renting out sections of the building to small businesses. The former brewery building has since been demolished. The series of lawsuits began with the federal government’s attempt to take ownership of the property through a lengthy criminal forfeiture hearing under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. When that failed eight years ago, the investigator took it to the provincial government, which then launched its own forfeiture proceedings under the Civil Remedies Act. That also failed, as did an attempt to revive it in appeal.
Fercan and GRVN were awarded $570,000 in costs, which the Crown also tried to appeal, after winning the forfeiture case. They now want the government to make up for the earnings lost through that process which they say amounted to civil conspiracy, claiming malicious prosecution, negligent investigation and misfeasance in public office. “It’s become a rather strange approach. You can’t prove your case criminally, so you then try to seize assets civilly,” said Greenspan. “It’s bizarre that these two pieces of legislation can live together. But they tried both here. “What more decisive conclusion can you reach than Fercan, the owners of the property, were absolutely blameless,” he added.