June 16, 2024

In a comprehensive investigation into a synthetic identity fraud scheme linked to over $4 million in financial losses, twelve individuals have been apprehended by Toronto’s law enforcement.

The report on Project Deja Vu became public knowledge this Monday.

According to Detective David Coffey, the Financial Crimes Unit delved into a dragnet in 2022, focused on synthetic identity credit fraud, with origins dating back to 2016.

Several suspects are suspected to have masterminded more than 680 distinct synthetic identities, with a substantial number exploited to initiate a multitude of bank accounts and credit accounts across different financial institutions and banks throughout Ontario.

The illegitimate credit accounts were typically utilised for executing in-store and online transactions, withdrawing cash, or transmitting electronic funds. Det. Coffey noted that a multitude of counterfeit payments were channelled into these credit accounts to exceed their boundaries, thereby incurring losses estimated at around $4 million to date.

An observant financial institution alerted Toronto’s police force, leading to the discovery of numerous synthetic bank accounts, primarily opened by a single ex-employee.

“Nearly all financial institutions were victimized as part of this scheme,” stated Det. Coffey, summarizing the conclusion of the probe.

Authorities served numerous search warrants, unearthing a trove of synthetic identity records, which included fraudulent official identifications, plus the electronic templates utilised in creating false IDs and fraudulent paperwork.

Decoding Synthetic Identity Fraud

Synthetic identity fraud is a variety of financial fraud where counterfeit personal information, resembling identity data, is employed to unlock accounts with businesses, banks, or other financial establishments.

In contrast to conventional identity theft, where the perpetrator takes possession of a living person’s details, synthetic identity fraud pivots on crafting a brand-new identity.

A transaction being executed with a credit card. Photo: Unsplash.

Fraudsters might unlawfully use another person’s social security number, blend it with a phoney name, date of birth, and other falsified specifics to establish a synthetic identity. They would then create stolen or counterfeit addresses to give the identity an air of legitimacy.

Det. Coffey pointed out that perpetuators of this kind of fraud are ingenious individuals, who evolve with technology, creating highly accurate false identifications. He added, “Financial institutions often catch these, but some still slip through the cracks.”

Upon crafting the synthetic identity, the fraudster may employ it to extend bank accounts, acquire credit cards, solicit loans, or perpetrate varying other kinds of financial fraud. These actions may trigger severe economic damage for corporations and individuals, also harming credit histories.

A Dozen Arrests and More Expected

Investigation officers suspect there might be more instances and casualties of this operation. They appeal to any enterprise that had dealings with any of the indicted individuals to cooperate with them.

The police also posit that a subset of the accused might have carried out refurbishment projects on residential premises in the GTA.

In the course of announcing Project Deja Vu’s conclusions, the Toronto Police disclosed the identities of the twelve individuals who had been charged. They include:

Hasnain Akram, 28, a Brampton resident

  • Charged with 16 counts of Fraud Over $5,000
  • Forgery
  • Possessing tools of forgery
  • In possession of a counterfeit mark twice
  • Unauthorized Possession of Credit Card Data
  • Laundering Proceeds of Crime
  • In possession of proceeds of a crime exceeding $5,000

Muhammad Hamza Baig, 31, a resident of Ayr, Ont.

  • Involved in Fraud Over $5,000
  • Embroiled in Laundering Proceeds of Crime
  • Possesses proceeds of a crime exceeding $5,000
  • Obstructing a peace officer
  • Uttered forged paperwork

Zelle Ali Choudary, 34, based in Brampton

  • Faces six counts of fraud exceeding $5,000
  • Has a counterfeit mark
  • Unauthorized ownership of credit card data
  • Laundering the proceeds of a crime
  • Possesses the proceeds of a crime exceeding $5,000

Rashad Iqbal, 41, from Caledon

  • Is implicated in a Fraud Over $5,000
  • Laundering proceeds of a crime
  • Presently holding proceeds of a crime exceeding $5,000
  • Illegitimate ownership of credit card data

Ranafayysal Masood Khan, 38, is a Mississauga inhabitant

  • Charged with a Fraud Over $5,000
  • Illicit acquisition of credit under false pretences
  • Unauthorized ownership of credit card data

Anmol Khurana, 27, a Markham dweller

  • Perpetrated a fraud exceeding $5,000
  • Sought credit on false grounds
  • Induced another person to act on a forged document

Fahad Ben Mofeez, 30, is a Brampton resident

  • Is enmeshed in seven counts of fraud exceeding $5,000
  • Illicit possession of credit card data
  • Laundering dirty money
  • Owner of crime proceeds exceeding $5,000

Muhammad Usman Saif, 32, also resides in Brampton

  • Facing head-on with seven counts of fraud over $5,000
  • Three counts of counterfeit mark possession
  • Unauthorized possession of credit card data
  • Laundering proceeds of crime
  • Possessor of crime proceeds over $5,000

Ali Sana, 26, hails from Brampton

  • Accused of five counts of Fraud Over $5,000
  • Forgery
  • Has instruments of forgery
  • Was found with a counterfeit mark twice
  • Unauthorized possession of credit card data
  • Laundering dirty money
  • Owner of ill-gotten gains exceeding $5,000
  • Handled identity knowledge being reckless a fraudulent offence was intended

Mian Muhammad Saud, 35, is from Belle River, Ont.

  • Involved in Fraud Over $5,000
  • Laundering proceeds of crime
  • Keeps proceeds of crime over $5,000

Sibt Hussain Syed, 60, another Brampton resident

  • Facing four counts of Fraud Over $5,000
  • Twice in possession of a counterfeit mark
  • Unauthorized possession of credit card data
  • Laundering money obtained illicitly
  • Owner of crime proceeds exceeding the $5,000 mark

Mueed Tanveer, 27, also a Brampton local

  • Three counts of Fraud Over $5,000
  • Laundering crime proceeds
  • In possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000
  • Trafficking in Identity Information