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Ontario's 'Crypto King' Aiden Pleterski arrested

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Aiden Pleterski, the self-proclaimed 'Crypto King' from Whitby, Ont., has been arrested in Durham Region after allegedly running a Ponzi scheme worth more than $40 million.

Court documents obtained by CTV News Toronto show that a warrant was issued for Pleterski on May 2 after a 16-month investigation by Durham Regional Police. He was charged with fraud over $5,000 and money laundering on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old was released on a $100,000 bail with his parents signed as sureties and an order that he reside at their home in Whitby. Other conditions restrict Pleterski from leaving Ontario, and require him to hand in his passport to Durham police. He is prohibited from contacting his associates or investors, possessing a debit or credit card, along with posting on social media about financial matters.

Durham police launched its investigation into Pleterski in July 2022 after investors claimed he had defrauded them. A month later, more than 100 people who allege to have lost north of $40 million to Pleterski petitioned him into bankruptcy in a civil lawsuit.

Of the $40-million Pleterski was allegedly handed over two years, bankruptcy documents show he invested just 1.6 per cent and spent $15.9 million on "his personal lifestyle.” In that time, Pleterski appeared to flaunt a lavish lifestyle to an audience of thousands on social media, with some of his photos showing a fleet of supercars parked outside of an $8 million mansion on the waterfront of Lake Ontario and regular private jet setting south of the border.

CTV National News: 'Crypto king' declared bankruptOn Tuesday, an alleged associate of Pleterski's, 27-year-old Oshawa resident Colin Murphy, was also arrested and charged with fraud over $5,000 in connection with the missing investments. Investors have previously alleged in a civil action against Murphy that he operated a Ponzi scheme parallel to Pleterski's alleged scheme.

In December, an arrest warrant was also issued for Chatham resident Ryan Rumble, who operated Banknote Capital in Chatham, Ont. and allegedly collected $14 million in investments from members of his community to operate a Ponzi scheme that fed nearly one-third of the investments to Pleterski.

Since November, Rumble has claimed to be in Dubai recouping missing investments.

In light of Tuesday's arrests, the Ontario Securities Commission has sent an email to investors, informing them that an investigation into Banknote Capital is ongoing.

The Durham Regional Police Service and the Ontario Securities Commission will be holding a news conference on Thursday to share further details.

In less than a month, Pleterski is scheduled to appear in court on June 10 in downtown Toronto, court documents show.

To date, Pleterski maintains an active online presence to an audience of about 150,000, sharing videos to Instagram of parties in Miami, London, and Los Angeles, and producing hours of live streaming content.

His posts have persisted, even on Wednesday after news of his arrest reached headlines. Pleterski shared a video of himself with the caption, “18-25 is a weird age…some still have to ask their parents to go out after 10 p.m.”

Pleterski's arrest comes after years spent investing, both his own earnings and others. In high school, he began investing his birthday money into crypto currency, he recalled in an examination in bankruptcy proceedings.

At 21, friends and family started handing him money to invest. In turn, he offered projections of five to seven per cent gains per week, court documents show.

Investors began to pursue Pleterski, according to court documents, wanting a taste of the expensive lifestyle he'd been promoting online in the form of luxury purchases. Images and videos of the supercars, high-end watches, and a Bentley gifted to his parents on their wedding anniversary painted a picture of success to prospective partners, the documents suggested.

Two years later, in July 2023, a bloodied and bruised Pleterski resurfaced in a video, said to have been filmed the December prior, in which he tells the camera he's being held following a kidnapping and apologizes to investors.

He claimed in the video that he lost everything in the winter of 2021 when the crypto market took a sharp tumble and responded with a series of aggressive “margin calls and bad trades” that led to more and more losses. At the time, Pleterski’s lawyer said some of the statements in the video were coerced.

Durham police investigated Pleterski for more than a year before laying charges. That could be, in part, to protect the accused's right to a timely trial, Norman Groot, a fraud recovery lawyer representing some of the investors, said. For large-scale fraud prosecution, the 18-month timeline can be a challenge, Groot told CTV News Toronto.

“[Investigators] have a sufficiently created case that they would go to trial on the case they have right now,” Groot said. “It creates an opportunity for individuals such as Pleterski to operate, spend money without restrictions, for an extended period of time.”

CTV News Toronto reached out to Pleterski’s criminal lawyer on Wednesday, but they declined to provide comment. 

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