TPS announces four arrests and significant seizures in yearlong identity theft investigation
October 22, 2021 By Blue Line Staff
Oct. 21, 2021, Toronto, Ont. – The Toronto Police Service has announced the takedown of an organized hierarchy committing millions of dollars in identity theft and financial frauds, including the seizure of thousands of stolen gift cards.
Dubbed Project Hydra, the yearlong investigation led officers to identify a chain of people from low-level identity thieves to counterfeit identification makers and distributors. Four people have been arrested and charged. Collectively, they face almost 100 criminal charges.
It is alleged that:
– in September 2020, the Financial Crimes Unit – Corporate Section, started an investigation into multiple occurrences of identity fraud and bank account takeovers.
– suspects would steal the identities and personal banking information of unsuspecting victims.
– using this information, they would create fraudulent identification and then employ other suspects to enter the financial institutions for the purposes of taking over the accounts.
After identifying the location in which suspects would pick up the fraudulent identification, investigators were able to secure six criminal code search warrants for September 2, 2021.
As a result, three people were arrested. On September 24, 2021, a fourth person was arrested.
The following items were seized during the warrants: fraudulent identifications, $70,000 cash, a Porsche Panamera, valued at $100,000, and electronic evidence including hard drives, cell phones, computer printers, etc.
In addition, investigators also discovered a business believed to be involved in the distribution of fraudulent gift cards. Officers recovered 37,000 gift cards, with potential values of $50 to $500 each, and 1,300 pre-paid credit cards, with an estimated value of $216,000.
The investigation into the seized gift cards is ongoing and more arrests and charges are possible.
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