Two men arrested in "advance fee scheme" fraud investigation,
Police believe there may be more victims,
Update following further investigation
Broadcast time: 15:30
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Case #: 2020-318112
The Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes Unit would like to advise the public of arrests made in an "advance fee scheme" fraud investigation.
Investigators are appealing to potential victims to come forward and speak to police.
An advance fee scheme occurs when victims are convinced into making advance or up-front payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that never materialize.
It is alleged:
- men purported to be from a law firm settling a class action lawsuit against alleged fraudulent precious gem brokers
- the men contacted victims who were believed to have been defrauded after investing in diamonds and gemstones
- the men promised large cash settlements from a lawsuit provided the victims first paid "attorney fees" in advance of receiving any payouts
- the information given to victims about the class action lawsuit settlement was false
- to date, the combined loss suffered by the victims is approximately $600,000
- the men used the following aliases while pretending to represent Ardern & Bennett LLP and Premier Credit Union:
It is further alleged:
- police executed search warrants, and the evidence seized during these warrants has lead investigators to believe there may be additional victims
On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Erik Ariel Fishman, 40, of Vaughan, was arrested. He was charged with:
1. two counts of Possession of Proceeds of Crime Over $5000
He is scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall, on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 in room 111.
On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Joseph Simon Rassi, 32, of Aurora, was arrested. He was charged with:
1. two counts of Fraud Over $5000
2. two counts of Conspiracy to Commit and Indictable Offence Over $5000
He is scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall, on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 in room 111.
Shortly after the arrests, the Toronto Police Service received a number of complaints regarding another law firm, Caldwell & Stephens LLP, based in the City of Toronto.
It is reported:
- individuals purported to be from the law firm settling a class action lawsuit against fraudulent diamond and precious gem brokers
- an investigation commenced and it was revealed the law firm did not exist
- individuals listed as legal representatives of the firm on the company website are aliases being used by perpetrators of this scheme
- the class action lawsuit settlement mentioned by representatives did not exist
The Toronto Police Service would like to warn the public not to send any personal information, money, or valuables to representatives purporting to be from Caldwell & Stephens LLP.
If you have been a victim of fraud or have any information about this investigation, please contact the Financial Crimes Unit at 416-808-7300.
The Toronto Police Service would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance in this case including the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the Ministry of Finance.
For further information on "advance fee" or other types of fraud please click here
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, online on our Facebook Leave a Tip page, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes or Google Play.
For more news, visit TPSnews.ca.
Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, Corporate Communications, for Detective Constable Kevin Williams, Organized Crime Enforcement - Financial Crimes Mass Marketing Section