5 charged in national money laundering, theft scheme involving fake investment website

FILE. The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police 'E' Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

RCMP have charged five people in a money laundering and theft scheme that involved a fake website that purported to be a legitimate investment firm.

The website lured “numerous” investors with high-interest investment opportunities via search engines and listed contact information for fraudulent representatives, police said. Investigators said the investors sent funds to various accounts at banks across the country before being moved to “destination accounts” and then on to other transactions not related to the intended investments.

The RCMP’s federal Integrated Market Enforcement Team (IMET) was made aware of the activity from a December 2021 referral from the Alberta Securities Commission.

IMET was assisted by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Durham regional police in the investigation.

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In February and March 2023, IMET arrested and charged:

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  • Quang Sac Hoang, 52, a resident of Calgary
  • Amarjit Panesar, 56, a resident of Surrey, B.C.
  • Mehdi Tabatabaie, 57, a resident of Toronto
  • Amjed Barlas, 53, a resident of Mississauga, Ont.
  • Rocky Stevenson, 36, a resident of Whitby, Ont.
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Political Panel: Getting tough on criminals and money laundering

They face charges of fraud of over $5,000, theft of over $5,000, possession of proceeds of crime and laundering proceeds of crime.

Barlas, Stevenson and Tabatabaie appeared in a Calgary court on March 6. Hoang made a Calgary court appearance on March 9. Panesar is due to appear in Calgary provincial court on April 13.

“I cannot overstate the importance of being cautious when seeking out investment opportunities of any kind,” Calgary IMET Insp. Stephen Reid said in a statement.

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“This investigation revealed a nefarious and elaborate interprovincial scheme that preyed upon Canadians and their hard-earned money.”

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, Reid advises you to report it to your local law enforcement and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online, or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

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