Toronto Police and the FBI worked together to uncover a cross-border fraud and money-laundering operation that amounted to more than $5 billion.Three men in the greater Toronto area were arrested in connection with the scheme, including one accused of posing as a United Nations ambassador. Officials from both agencies stressed that cooperation between the two countries is incredibly important, especially in this day and age when crime proceeds across the borders with increasing efficiency.
Local police arrested Ikechukwu Amadi and Lineo Molefe in connection with the incident. Both men are charged with laundering the proceeds of crime and fraud over $5,000. Akohomen Ighedoise is also charged with laundering the proceeds of crime, fraud over $5000, and participating in a criminal organization.
In 2014, Toronto Police began investigating what they call a “romance scam.” The scam involved a 63-year-old widow from Toronto who was defrauded of over $609,000.
Deputy Constable Mike Kelly from the financial crimes unit stated that, “I will say, just as a personal anecdote, that we went to visit [the woman] in the wintertime and found her … at her home, and the heat was barely on. She was wearing a jacket and mittens inside, and a jacket and hat, in her house. She’s been economically ruined.”
The woman had gone on a dating site and had met someone online beginning what she thought was a romantic relationship. Constable Kelly said the relationship was fabricated and that, within the course of a few months, she gave the man over $609,000.
On Thursday, Detective Sergeant Ian Nichol described the course of the investigation. FBI officers and United States Postal Inspection Service investigators were amazed. Nichol stated that, “We saw significant linkage with what was going on on the U.S. side … notes were compared, and lo and behold, we were onto something bigger than what we had originally.”
The investigation then led to the arrest of another man who police believe is a member of an international criminal organization known as The Black Axe or Neo-Black Movement of Africa.
Police believe that the members of the Black Axe or Neo-Black Movement are intimidating members of the Nigerian community in the greater Toronto area.
Nichol also stated that, “We are concerned there may be more victims, not only in Canada but elsewhere. Because these offences are … largely initiated over the Internet and followed up on over the Internet, borders are essentially meaningless.”