Two men arrested in advance fee fraud scheme investigation

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Toronto (May 25, 2020) – The Toronto police arrested two men on May 12 for allegedly stealing $600,000 posing as lawyers settling a class-action lawsuit in an advance fee scheme. Erik Ariel Fishman (40) and Joseph Simon Rassi (32) are accused of contacting people who they believed to be victims of ‘fraudulent precious gem brokers’. They allegedly purported to call on behalf of a law firm. Police said that they gave false information to the victims about a class-action lawsuit settlement. To date, their victims suffered a combined loss of approximately $600,000. Investigators are appealing to potential victims to come forward since they believe there may be more.

Toronto police arrested Erik Ariel Fishman (40) and Joseph Simon Rassi (32) as a result of an advance fee scheme fraud investigation according to a press release from May 25. The two men are accused of stealing $600,000 while posing as lawyers settling a class action lawsuit against fraudulent precious gem brokers.

The advance fee fraud scheme

The police accused Fishman and Rassi of calling victims who were believed to have been defrauded after investing in diamonds and gemstones. The two men allegedly posed to represent the law firm Ardern & Bennett LLP and Premier Credit Union settling a class action lawsuit against ‘fraudulent precious gem brokers.’ They used a number of different aliases during these bogus calls such as Paul Bennett, David Ardern, James Greenstein, and James Adelman.

The scammers promised large cash settlements in case the victims paid the ‘attorney fees’ in advance. The police clarified that an advance fee scheme occurs when victims are persuaded into making advance or up-front payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that never materialize.

The police said that the information given to victims about the class action lawsuit settlement was false and that, to date, the victims suffered a combined loss of approximately $600,000.

Read more: Lawyer who oversaw Caledonia class action charged with fraud

Two men arrested and charged

On May 12, Toronto police’s Financial Crimes Unit arrested Fishman of Vaughan and Rassi of Aurora. Fishman is charged with two counts of Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5,000 and is scheduled to appear in court on July 21. Rassi is facing two counts of Fraud Over $5000 and two counts of Conspiracy to Commit and Indictable Offence Over $5000. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 22.

During the fraud investigation, the police seized evidence while executing search warrants that has lead investigators to believe there may be additional victims. The police are appealing to potential victims to come forward and contact the Financial Crimes Unit at 416-808-7300.

Read more: Don’t fall for Advance Fee Loan Scams. It’s illegal in Ontario.