Police say Mickie Noah was a member of the ring and the group of ‘high roller’ Nigerian ex-pats that used the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle in downtown Toronto
March 22, 2018 (Courtesy of NationalPost.com) – Something was different about the man known as Mickie Noah. More than a year after police in Toronto issued a warrant for his arrest, he was in front of investigators. He looked thinner, in a hoodie and track pants. Det.-Const. Timothy Trotter noticed he wasn’t even wearing a watch.
“A polite term, would be considerably diminished from his former stature — sartorially and physically,” Trotter said in an interview on Wednesday.
U.S. immigration agents turned Noah over to Canadian authorities on Monday. It isn’t clear where he has been or what he’s been up to in the months following a Toronto Financial Crimes Unit investigation that unravelled an alleged fraud ring that bilked an estimated $10 million from stolen credit cards and other products.
Police say Noah, 44, was a member of the ring and the social group of Nigerian ex-pats that used the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle in downtown Toronto — brunches and designer clothes and cigars and bottle service. But, investigators say, he wasn’t the leader. That, according to allegations, was Adekunle Omitiran, known around Toronto as Johnson Chrome.
In April 2017 investigators arrested Chrome and called a news conference to announce the arrests made in Project Royal – a probe into the scheme named to reflect its brazen extravagance. Officers trotted out expensive suits, crocodile shoes, watches worth more than a sedan and laid them out like they would contraband firearms or parcels of drugs. All of it, they alleged, belonged to Chrome, purchased with the money from the scheme that involved pilfering credit information and setting up more than 5,000 credit products.
Det.-Const. Trotter said a “social group” coalesced around Chrome – benefiting from the money coming in and helping in various ways to squeeze funds out of the stolen cards. Mickie Noah was part of the group, Trotter said, adding that charges are forthcoming against him that will outline the extent to which he participated in the scheme.
“It was a criminal organization/social group,” he said. “So they were all perceived as high rollers. They all partied together, right? That was one of his roles, was just as part of the cohesive group.”
It was the flashiness — the “conspicuous consumption” as investigators put it — that Trotter said helped detectives who were trying to piece together the links between the members of Chrome’s social group. They were photographed at dinners and clubs in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood, and at brunch on King West in the entertainment district.
As of Tuesday, Mickie Noah — which is his street name, his real name is Duro Akintola — is facing a set of charges unrelated to Project Royal, including fraud under $5,000 and using a forged passport.
On Monday, nearly a year since the warrant for his arrest, Noah arrived at Toronto’s Pearson airport in the custody of U.S. immigration agents. He had thousands of dollars on him in American bills, Trotter said. It’s not clear what he was doing in the United States, only that in November 2017 Homeland Security agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement found him outside Baltimore and, because of the outstanding warrant, arrested him on the street in Ownings Mills, Maryland. Then they started the process to extradite him back to Canada.
“No one has a grasp on essentially how he managed to live down there,” Trotter said, adding that the story Noah gave police didn’t match what was told to immigration officials. “It’s a fabric, a web of lies.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The case again Johnson Chrome is still before the courts. On Monday, Noah made a brief court appearance at Old City Hall in Toronto and was granted bail, agreeing, among other things, not to possess any credit card or any ID that he cannot lawfully claim as his own, court records say.
At a meeting with police before his hearing, Noah — despite his track suit and lack of watch — still made a point to clarify his fashion designer preferences to investigators. “Now he tells me,” Trotter said, “he was more fond of Tom Ford and Ferragamo.”