A fraud-detection agent at a major financial institution is among two people arrested recently and charged in an elaborate money-laundering scheme that allegedly bilked victims of more than $8 million.
Detective Micheal Lane of 42 Division said the investigation started on June 28, 2016, when an entrepreneur reported that a woman cashed a counterfeit $98,000 cheque at his business.
“We found that hundreds of cheques were deposited into personal and business accounts,” he said, at a news conference at police headquarters on February 17. “The banks then learned that these cheques were worthless and the suspects and other people were able to get away with their funds.”
Lane said that synthetic identifications were allegedly used to open business and personal accounts and secure loans.
“They opened up businesses that are legitimate,” he said. “However, they were opened in fake names. Part of the scheme was also to further solidify the business by creating websites. If financial companies tried to ascertain whether a business was legitimate, they could provide information in relation to that business online. Phone numbers were also created for each business and person so that if a financial institution called, there was an actual number associated to that…They did just about anything to obtain funds to get products, including high-end vehicles.”
Lane some of the vehicles have been recovered in containers in Quebec.
On February 10, Balasubramaniam Shanjeefkara, 35, of Ajax, was arrested and charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of proceeds obtained by crime over $5,000, laundering proceeds obtained by crime, unauthorized possession of a counterfeit mark and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
The following day, investigators executed a Criminal Code search on his residence and allegedly seized a large quantity of counterfeit documents and credit cards.
As a result of the warrant and seizure, Shanjeefkara’s wife – 30-year-old financial institution employee Sukanya Panchalingam – was arrested on February 13 and charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of proceeds obtained by crime over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds obtained by crime.
She will make a court appearance on April 6.
Lane believes there may be other victims, some of whom might be subjected to identify theft.
“Identify theft is a huge issue for people,” he said. “It can turn their lives upside down.”
A total of 12 other people were arrested earlier and charged in relation to the same investigation.
Anyone with information can contact Lane at (416) 808-4207; Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.