11/19/2013 02:07 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Fifteen people arrested in RCMP raids on alleged fraudsters in Montreal

MONTREAL - Fifteen people working in an alleged call centre in Montreal have been arrested on charges they were involved in a mass-market fraud that spanned Canada and the United States.

The RCMP estimates the alleged fraud at $20 million with thousands of victims.

The Mounties teamed up with U.S. authorities as well as Quebec provincial police and city police in Montreal and Chateauguay to conduct the operation.

One individual who was the subject of several fraud complaints was targeted in the investigation, which the RCMP launched in November 2011.

The RCMP says funds from the victims were cashed by the suspect through his own wire transfer company and that the person also laundered money from the victims in other countries to benefit other scam networks.

At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division investigated a group defrauding people through fake invoices for phoney ads.

The U.S. probe revealed that since 2011, more than 5,000 companies, schools, and religious groups have been defrauded of nearly $12 million.