Toronto man charged after investigation into identity theft, re-direction schemeOctober 29, 2018
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, October 29, 2018 5:38PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 29, 2018 8:33PM EDT
A 32-year-old man has been charged after an investigation found that at least 38 people were the victims of identity theft in a shipment re-direction scheme that resulted in losses of more than $500,000.
According to police, shipments of gold, jewelry and electronics were re-directed to addresses controlled by a suspect or sent to warehouses where someone posing as the intended recipient would pick up the package.
The Toronto Police Service’s Financial Crimes Unit began its investigation into the alleged cargo re-direction scheme in August.
At a news conference held Monday morning, Det. Sgt. Ian Nichol said the investigation, which has been called “Project Groundhog,” found that commercial shipping accounts “had been taken over.”
In order to carry out the shipping re-direction, police alleged that the suspect conducted an identity theft scheme.
“This involved applying for credit, and obtaining high-limit credit cards using the identity particulars of innocent victims,” Nichol said.
Nichol said the known losses associated with both schemes exceeds $500,000 over a three-month period.
On Oct. 24, Toronto police and RCMP officers executed search warrants at a Yorkville condominium and an office located near Finch Avenue West and Highway 400 in connection with the schemes.
Police said that officers seized a number of items, including a stolen Hublot watch valued at $36,000, 38 credit cards, multiple phones and electronics, and a number of forged documents including certificates of citizenship, drivers’ licences and social insurance cards.
On Monday, investigators released photographs of some of the fraudulent identifications, which displayed identical photographs but different names. Police believe the names on the cards are suspected victims of identity theft.
Nichol said that there are 38 known victims of the schemes, but also said he believes “this is the tip of the iceberg” and there could be more victims.
A suspect police have identified as Toronto-resident Jerahmeil Selvyn Wilson was taken in to custody on Wednesday. Wilson has been charged with 17 offences, including personation with intent, theft of over $5,000, and possessing a credit card obtained by crime.
Investigators said that Wilson allegedly used multiple aliases to rent lockers to store the shipments. At the news conference, Nichol said that he believes there are more people involved in the schemes.
“I believe (the suspect) was the orchestrator of the offences, but I believe he was also assisted by numerous persons, both those who were posing as the recipients of cargo as well as persons who helped him set up some of these…