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Five arrested in Canada-wide romance scams

Toronto (October 22, 2019) – Five Ontario residents were arrested by the Toronto police in September 2019 after a 10-month investigation into a romance scam scheme. The men are alleged to have been connected to the bank accounts that have been used for online romance scams that targeted seniors all across Canada. The victims bore losses of a total of $250,000. The Toronto police announced in a press release that the five men from Toronto and London, Ontario were arrested and charged with Possession of Proceeds of Crime and Launder Proceeds of Crime, among others in September 2019.

The Financial Crimes Unit of the Toronto Police arrested five men from Toronto and London, Ontario in September 2019 as a result of a 10-months investigation into a romance fraud scheme that targeted seniors all across Canada. In a statement, the police described the fraud scheme, the police unit was investigating from December 2018 on, as ‘a romance-type fraud scam’.

The fraudsters built up online relationships with their victims using fake profiles on social media. ‘After a period of time, once trust was established, the victims were persuaded to send money to various bank accounts.’, police said in a statement. This way, the victims that had been identified so far bore total losses of approximately $250,000. Some of the bank accounts where the money was transferred to by the victims were legitimate and some were opened with fake identification documents. To access the funds from bank accounts the names ‘George Bature’, ‘Foday Amos’ and ‘Jonathan Faith’ were used.

During the investigation, the police said that they identified a number of suspects who ‘opened and controlled the bank accounts set up to receive the funds generated from these romance frauds.’ In September 2019, Oluwaseun Oladokun (35), Olanrewaju Fagbemi (36), Martins Tabat (33), Freeman Toje (45), and Kaitlin Ainsworth (24) were subsequently arrested and charged with Possession of Proceeds of Crime and Launder Proceeds of Crime.

Toje additionally faces charges of Possession of Counterfeit Mark and Possess Forged Passport. Police allege that he held various fraudulent government identities under the names Jonathan Faith, Foday Amos, Sabia Smith, Scott Miller, Eric Menke, and Aaron Tubman. Two of these identities were allegedly used to access the fraudulently obtained funds, according to the police.

The authorities warn against this type of online fraud and advise the public not to send money to unknown individuals. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre describes romance scammer as an ‘individual with false romantic intentions toward a victim in order to gain their trust and affection for the purpose of obtaining the victim’s money or access to their bank accounts or credit cards.’ For more information please see the website of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

The police encourage anyone who has been a victim of a similar fraud scam to contact the Financial Crimes Unit. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7300 or anyone who wishes to report information confidentially on this incident may contact D. Slenys at Investigation Counsel PC. Anyone who wishes to inquire fraud recovery information on their own case, or wishes to report fraud with whistleblower protection, please contact D. Slenys at 416-637-3151 or dslenys@investigationcounsel.com.