Toronto police make arrests in $93 million pyramid scheme

A file photo of a Toronto police cruiser. Global News

TORONTO – Toronto police have made two arrests in connection to a $93 million pyramid scheme.

It is alleged the accused operated the scheme known as “Banners Broker” between October 2010 and March 2013 out of a Church Street address.

Police said the scheme offered participants a chance to double their money by investing in an advertising company.

The victims were “led to believe their investments were being applied towards a program that offered payment for the direction of web traffic via referral links.”

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Is it alleged the program was dependent on fee-based entry of new members and “little or no real product or service was provided,” said police.

Police said over US$93 million was obtained from thousands of participants by the end of 2012.

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It is alleged about $45 million was paid back to participants of the scheme with the remaining amount funneled to offshore accounts in Belize, St. Lucia, Cyprus and others.

Police began their investigation in January 2013 with help from the RCMP, Competition Bureau of Canada, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Ministry of Finance, U.S. Federal Trade Commission, FINTRAC, and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Christopher George Smith, 45, of Toronto, and Rajiv Dixit, 45, of Vancouver, were arrested on Dec. 9 and charged with a number of offences including defraud the public over $5,000, launder proceeds of crime and operate scheme of pyramid.

The accused were scheduled to appear in Dec. 9.

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