The Toronto Police Service announced Thursday that they hav takedown an organized hierarchy committing millions of dollars in identity theft and financial frauds, including the seizure of thousands of stolen gift cards.
Dubbed Project Hydra, the yearlong investigation led officers to identify a chain of people from low-level identity thieves to counterfeit identification makers and distributors, the Toronto Police said in a statement.
Financial Crimes Unit – Corporate Section, started the investigation in September 2020, arresting three people.
According to Toronto Police, Vladislav Tsyganok, 25, of Vaughan, was charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence, three counts of Trafficking in Identity Information, and two counts of Transfers an Identity Document.
Jamal Karama Sharif, 34, of Newmarket and Toronto, was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Indictable Offence, three counts of Identity Theft, Fraud (Over, Fraud (Under), five counts of Possession of an Identity Document, Attempt Fraud (Under), and three counts of Possession Proceeds of Property Obtained by Crime.
Asmerom Tsegay, 31, of Toronto, was charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Indictable Offence, two counts of Identity Theft, two counts of Transfers an Identity Document, Fraud (Under) C.C. 380(1)(b), two counts of Attempt Fraud (Under), and Obstruct Peace Officer.
The Toronto Police also added that on September 24, 2021, a fourth person, Nadia Campitelli, 46, was arrested and was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Indictable Offence, nine counts of Fraud (Over), twenty counts of Personation to obtain property interest twenty-two counts of Use a forged document, four counts of Fraud Under $5,000, Attempt Fraud over $5000, and seven counts of Attempt Fraud Under $5000.
Police also seized fraudulent identifications, $70,000 cash, a Porsche Panamera, valued at $100,000, electronic evidence including hard drives, cell phones, computer printers, etc., the Toronto Police said, adding that investigators also discovered a business believed to be involved in the distribution of fraudulent gift cards.
Officers recovered 37,000 gift cards, with potential values of $50 to $500 each, and 1,300 pre-paid credit cards, with an estimated value of $216,000.