Service Ontario employees were involved in a suspected auto theft ring, Toronto police allege, and hundreds of people have reportedly had their data trafficked.
Toronto police said Wednesday that in February, officers launched Project Safari, aimed at identifying and arresting individuals involved in a suspected auto theft ring responsible for “numerous” vehicle thefts throughout the city.
Police said the investigation revealed that the suspects were conspiring with employees at Service Ontario, who trafficked driving and vehicle data taken from the Ministry of Transportation’s database.
Service Ontario employees would provide the accused with vehicle and driver information, including addresses, and then vehicles would be stolen, police said.
Employees at Service Ontario would also provide fraudulent vehicle identification numbers (VIN) and registrations, with the fraudulent VIN then being placed on the stolen vehicle and linked with the fraudulent registration, police allege.
The vehicles were then sold in Canada to unsuspecting buyers or were used to commit other crimes, police said.
Twenty-five search warrants were executed between July and October at Service Ontario branches, homes, commercial garages and vehicles.
“Investigators located and recovered several stolen and re-vined vehicles in addition to equipment, tools and electronics utilized by the accused to facilitate the theft of motor vehicles,” police said. “The search warrants also revealed that the amount of people who had their data trafficked by the accused numbered in the hundreds.”
Around $1.5 million in alleged crime proceeds were also seized, including several luxury vehicles and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
Seven suspects have been arrested and 73 charges were laid, police said.
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