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Ontario's so-called 'Crypto King' soliciting investments as recently as February: police


Ontario’s so-called ‘Crypto King’ Aiden Pleterski was soliciting new investors as recently as February – a year-and-a-half after he was petitioned into bankruptcy for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme worth more than $40 million – police alleged on Thursday.

Pleterski is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and money laundering after being arrested in Durham region on Tuesday. He has been released on a $100,000 bail with his parents acting as sureties.

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On Friday, one of Pleterski’s associates, Colin Murphy, 27, surrendered himself to authorities and is also facing charges of 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 scam.

Comments regarding Pleterski’s most recent attempts to solicit investors were made during a news conference about the 16-month police investigation, dubbed “Project Swan,” held by Durham Regional Police and the Ontario Securities Commission on Thursday. It is believed to be the largest fraud investigation that has ever taken place in the region.

Durham Police Chief Peter Moreira said investigators spoke to a “large number” of victims, conducted over 40 court orders to gather evidence, and analyzed thousands of financial documents as part of the probe. The investigation was carried out with the help of the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Investigators first received reports of an investment fraud operation being run by a man in Whitby, Ont., in July 2022, according to Moreira.

At the time, Pleterski had been promising investors five to seven per cent gains per week while posting images of a seemingly lavish lifestyle on social media that showed him driving a fluorescent McLaren and lounging on a private jet, according to court documents filed as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

Aiden Pleterski, 25, in a mug shot taken by Durham police after he was arrested for fraud over $5,000 and money laundering. (DRPS photo) Of the $40-million Pleterski was allegedly handed over two years, bankruptcy documents show he invested just 1.6 per cent. Even after he was petitioned into bankruptcy by hundreds of investors, he still posted images showing his apparent travels to London, Miami and Sydeney in recent months.

According to Moreira, a fraud of this scope could land an offender up to 14 years in jail.

Until this point, Pleterski's travels and spending have been seemingly unimpeded. But now, his bail conditions require him to reside at his parents' home in Whitby and restrict him from leaving Ontario.

During Thursday's press conference, reporters from media outlets across the Greater Toronto Area gathered to pepper police with longstanding questions. But a publication ban barred the disclosure of further details, police said.

Officers referenced the publication ban half a dozen times throughout the 20 minute news conference in response to requests for further context on the charges, along with questions regarding the scope of the alleged fraud.

Durham's police chief announces "Project Swan," an investigation into so-called ‘Crypto King’ Aiden Pleterski, on May 16, 2024 (CTV/ Patrick Darrah)Norman Groot, a fraud recovery lawyer representing investors, said police at the press conference were “very guarded” about the information they released in order to protect their case.

“That is why they repeated the term publication ban over and over again. They have to keep their criminal investigation confidential for the sake of the prosecution,” he said.

Ontario Securities Commission Senior Investigator Stephen Henkel, meanwhile, said Pleterski and Murphy were not registered with the OSC in any capacity.

“This means they are not permitted to engage in the business of trading securities or providing investment advice,” he said.

As part of his bail conditions, Pleterski is prohibited from contacting his associates or investors, possessing a debit or credit card, and posting on social media about financial matters.

Despite the many victims police have spoken to in this investigation, they said it remains active and are encouraging anyone who might have information to still come forward.

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