Toronto police lay 102 charges in credit fraud investigation

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Toronto police say they have laid 102 charges in a major synthetic identity fraud investigation involving 12 people.

Investigators announced the results of Project Déjà Vu at a news conference Monday, after its financial crimes unit began investigating a synthetic-identity credit fraud scheme that reportedly dated back to 2016. The two-year long investigation was dubbed Project Déjà Vu, following a similar synthetic identity fraud investigation in 2014 called Operation Mouse.

Det. David Coffey said that the latest scheme resulted in roughly $4 million in losses.

“The perpetrators of this scheme … are alleged to have created more than 680 unique synthetic identities, many of which were used to apply for and open hundreds of bank accounts and credit accounts at various banks and financial institutions across Ontario,” Coffey said at the Monday news conference.

“The fraudulently obtained credit accounts were then drawn upon by way of in-store and online purchases, cash withdrawals or electronic fund transfers.”

Coffey added that in many cases fraudulent payments were made into the credit account, allowing them to be drawn beyond their set limits. Police executed more than 20 search warrants in their investigation.

A total of 12 men, between 26 and 60 years old, have been arrested and face a number of charges including fraud, forgery, unauthorized possession of credit card data and laundering proceeds of crime.

Investigators say there may be more victims

Hundreds of debit and credit cards were also seized as part of the investigation, along with about $300,000 in Canadian and foreign currency. 

Synthetic identity fraud is a form of financial fraud in which fictional personal information such as identity information that does not belong to a real person, is used to open accounts with banks, financial institutions or other businesses, police said in a news release.

Beyond facilitating fraud, the release says accounts obtained under synthetic identities are “known to facilitate other serious criminal offences, including the laundering of proceeds derived from human trafficking, drug trafficking, and armed robbery, among other serious crimes.”

Investigators say they believe there may be more victims and are looking to speak with anyone who has information related to this investigation. 

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