Ontario man charged in inheritance fraud investigation
Published Monday, May 28, 2012 1:52PM EDT
An Ontario man has been arrested and charged in connection to an international inheritance fraud investigation after a woman was conned for more than $200,000, Toronto police said on Monday.
Police say the suspect convinced a woman that a deceased relative had left her a large sum of money that was being held offshore.
The woman allegedly paid for a series of certificates and fees she believed would result in her receiving the inheritance.
Police say the inheritance never existed and the victim lost a combined $217,300 in the scam.
Det. Al Spratt, of the Toronto police financial crimes unit, said the victim had been led to believe she had as much as $12 million U.S. coming to her as part of the inheritance.
"Generally speaking, in this type of crime once the victims come to the realization that they are victims they are embarrassed, ashamed," Spratt told a press conference on Monday.
"There are generally many suspects involved, or the suspect purport to be many suspects. The victims often think they are dealing with government officials, they think they are dealing with accountants, they think they are dealing with bookkeepers; they think they are dealing with diplomats.
"There is a whole network of deceit."
Spratt said on Monday that their investigation began after they were contacted by police in Singapore, who uncovered information during their own investigation.
Investigators arrested the suspect in a Toronto hotel room last week, while he was allegedly attempting to meet with the victim to secure more money.
Police allege the suspect was in possession of a suitcase filled with stacks of blank paper hidden under U.S. dollar bills, to give the illusion of a briefcase filled with the victim's inheritance.
Ikechukwu Victor Ozumba, 32, a resident of Mississauga, a.k.a. Andrew Morgan, has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of a forged document.
Spratt said that mass marketing scams begin with emails, letters or phone calls promising large profits, such as an unexpected inheritance, being sent to hundreds or thousands of people in the hopes that a few people will respond.
"It is an inexpensive and easy thing to do. One of the reasons that they do it is that there is initially no face-to-face contact with victims," Spratt said.
"It doesn't take many victims for it to pay off."
Spratt said that shame can often cause some victims to stay quiet and not contact police.
Police have said there may be other victims and have asked anyone who may have had dealings with the accused to contact Dt. Sgt Cathy Kehoe of the Toronto Strategic Partnership at 416-808-7325 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).