Election 'robocalls' probe targets PayPal

Mar 06, 2012
Canada's elections watchdog focused Tuesday on online payments company PayPal's records as part of a probe of "robocalls" that misdirected voters to fake polling stations during last year's election.

Canada's elections watchdog focused Tuesday on online payments company PayPal's records as part of a probe of "robocalls" that misdirected voters to fake polling stations during last year's election.

"PayPal has been served a production order in regards to the Elections Canada investigation," the company said in a statement. Production orders are court orders to turn over documents.

said it is cooperating with Elections Canada's efforts to identify who was behind the automated telephone calls to voters in the town of Guelph, Ontario in 2011 that likely led some to give up on voting.

However the company declined comment further, citing a "strict privacy policy to protect the of our users."

Canada's opposition parties, whose supporters were apparently targeted by the rogue calls, pointed fingers at the ruling Conservatives, but the Conservatives denied any involvement while hitting back at what they claimed was a "smear campaign."

Elections Canada, after being inundated with complaints, is investigating the calls, aided by the federal police.

The has traced the calls to a single telephone number that showed up on call displays and a disposable "burner" cell phone registered to an unknown "Pierre Poutine" at a fictitious address in Joliette, northeast of Montreal. Poutine is a Quebec dish of French fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy.

According to , the cell phone was used to set up an account at an Edmonton, Alberta, call center to make the phony calls two days before the May 2 election.

Explore further: Students trust technology, but have concerns about privacy and robotics, poll shows

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