Men from GTA charged in Facebook Marketplace fraud involving fake iPhones

Two men are facing charges in a fraud investigation after the pair allegedly sold fake Apple iPhones on Facebook Marketplace and, in some cases, assaulted and robbed their victims, Toronto police said.

An investigation dubbed Project Paper Bag was launched following reports dating back to 2021 of two men committing fraud using the Facebook Marketplace platform.

It’s alleged both men advertised Apple iPhones for sale and would meet potential victims.

Police said they sold fraudulent phones that resembled Apple iPhones or provided cell phone boxes that contained rice or sand. They also offered fake receipts for the phones to convince the victims that the cell phones were authentic.

Several of the interactions with victims resulted in physical altercations, and authorities said the victims were struck and the men robbed them of their cash. The accused would then flee the area in a white-coloured Honda Civic.

On April 19, 2024, Toronto’s major crime unit executed three search warrants in Toronto and Peel Region. Investigators seized evidence, including a large quantity of currency and fake cell phone boxes containing rice.

Police warn public of similar crimes

Facebook Marketplace is a platform within the social media network that allows users to buy, sell, and trade goods and services with others in their local community.

On Monday, police identified both men as 25-year-old Jovane Martin of Brampton and 25-year-old Jeremiah Stoute of Mississauga. The pair face several charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, 13 counts of fraud under $5,000 and two counts each of robbery, among other related crimes.

Stoute was also charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

Jovane Martin and Jeremiah Stoute
Police have charged 25-year-old Jovane Martin (left) and 25-year-old Jeremiah Stoute of Brampton and Mississauga. Photo: Toronto police.

Both men were scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Police believe there may be additional victims and have shared tips with members of the public on reducing the risk of being victimized while buying or selling items online.

They include attempting to meet the buyer or seller at a local police division or at a location you feel safe and not sending any money online or through e-transfer before having possession of the item(s).

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