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Belle River resident one of 12 people arrested by Toronto police in $4M fake ID scheme

Toronto Police have charged Mian Muhammad Saud, from Belle River, Ont. with three fraud charges.(Source: Toronto police) Toronto Police have charged Mian Muhammad Saud, from Belle River, Ont. with three fraud charges.(Source: Toronto police)
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‘Project Déjà Vu’ was launched in October 2022 after a financial institution reported fake accounts created by a former employee.

Toronto Police describe the crimes as “synthetic-identity credit fraud scheme.”

“They’re essentially applying for unlimited amounts of credit in fictional synthetic names,” Toronto Police Service Det. David Coffee said Monday during a news conference.

Coffee said the crimes started back in 2016 and police believe more than 680 fake identities were created since then.

Toronto police allege “hundreds” of bank and credit accounts were created at various banks and financial institutions across Ontario.

“The fraudulently-obtained credit accounts were then drawn upon by way of in-store and online purchases, cash withdrawals, or electronic fund transfers,” said Coffee. “In many cases, fraudulent payments were made into the credit account to allow them to be drawn beyond their defined limits.”

According to police, the crimes have lead to “confirmed losses” of approximately $4 million.

“This isn’t just about fraud,” Coffee said. “Accounts obtained under synthetic identities are know to facilitate other serious criminal offences including the laundering of proceeds derived from human trafficking, drug trafficking and armed robbery among other serious crimes.”

After using 20 search warrants, police seized several dozen fake documents, including government ID, and electronic templates to create false identifications.

They also seized $300,000 in Canadian and foreign cash along with hundreds of debit and credit cards.

Mian Muhammad Saud, 35, who police identified as being from Belle River, is charged with fraud over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime and possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000.

Of the 11 other suspects, seven are from Brampton, with the remaining from Ayr, Caledon, Mississauga, Markham.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Police say the investigation is not over.

“We believe there are other people who are complicit in this scheme and we are working to identify them. We also believe there may be additional incidents and victims,” said Coffee.

Police are releasing the images of everybody who was arrested and are encouraging businesses owners to look through them, and report any suspicious purchases or credit applications.

Coffee said fraudulent transactions might have also been conducted through online buy and sell platforms. 

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