Charges laid after Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries defrauded of over $275,000, police say

One person has been charged after Winnipeg police say Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries was defrauded of over $275,000 over a two year period. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Francis Vachon

The owner of a bus company is facing several charges after a nearly two-year investigation by Winnipeg police found Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries had been defrauded of over $275,000.

The Crown Corporation contacted the Winnipeg Police Service’s (WPS) Financial Crimes Unit in May, 2019, after an audit turned up suspicious transactions dating back to 2017.

Investigators believe someone was manipulating invoices and computer data to show more people were taking part in tour packages provided by Casinos of Winnipeg than there were in reality.

In some cases, entire trips were falsified.

Read more: Winnipeg man charged in alleged credit card fraud, money laundering scheme

Casinos of Winnipeg hires various companies to provide bus transportation during the tours, and their payment is partly based on how many people are booked for the tour, police say.

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The WPS says the tour companies themselves were unaware they were being overpaid, and the tour operators had no reason to believe they were being scammed.

In total, the investigation turned up 300 instances of fraud, theft, and money-laundering between April 2017 and April 2019, police say.

Read more: Winnipeg police warning of COVID-19-related frauds and scams

On March 2, a 51-year-old Winnipeg woman was charged with fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime, and mischief to data.

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