11/19/2013 05:35 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Police bust telemarketing fraud operating out of downtown Montreal

RCMP officers arrested 15 people who worked out of a call centre in downtown Montreal for allegedly defrauding people in Canada and the United States for more than $10 million.

The RCMP made the arrests Tuesday morning.  Federal trade officials in the United States have been investigating the case since 2011.

Officials say that over the last few years, the alleged scammers defrauded more than 5,000 businesses, museums and schools.

“We have over 13,000 consumer complaints,” said Federal Trade Commission director Steve Baker.

Officials say the people behind the scam would contact organizations in the United States, pretending to update information for a directories web site.

If the businesses wouldn’t pay, they would receive notices and phone calls threatening the company that its credit rating would be ruined.

Once companies did pay, the alleged scammers operating out of Montreal would set up shell companies and mail drops in the United States to hide their location.

Baker says Montreal is a hub for telemarketing fraud.

“We've probably done three or four other cases ourselves against Montreal operations,” he said. “This is far and away the biggest one I've ever seen.”