Toronto police displayed some “black money” allegedly used in a $450,000 fraud scam during a news conference at police headquarters on Monday.
Officers allege five men used counterfeit money, coated in a thick dark substance, in a false commercial real estate deal.
The victim had advertised the north-end property in October 2012. Police say he was then contacted by the five men who befriended him and told him they had a large sum of money coming in from South Africa.
But the cash was coated in a brown substance and required cleaning. The five men asked the victim to cover the cost of the cleaning and promised him more money.
The victim eventually paid the men and the money turned out to be counterfeit.
Det. Alan Spratt described this fraud as a black money scam where suspects contact the victim in some unrelated pretext, such as seeking a loan for a venture or selling an item, and befriend the victim before saying they need to bring in money to Canada.
But this money is disguised with a powder that turns the money black and the victim is told that to clean the money they need special chemicals that are very expensive.
“They’ll ask the victims to pay the monies until the victim realizes it’s a fraud scam,” Spratt said.
One man, Herman Fankem, 32, of Montreal, was arrested last Tuesday and charged with fraud over $5,000. He appeared in court on Wednesday.
Police are asking for the public’s assistance to find the other suspects as well as for other possible victims to contact them.
“My advice is to stay clear of anything that’s even close to this,” Spratt said. “If anyone says they’ve got to hide money or cover money you should definitely stay away from it. Something definitely illegal is going on.”