THE York Regional Police Major Fraud Unit has charged three additional men in connection with a romance and investment Ponzi scheme where twenty victims lost approximately $1.2 million. Investigators believe there are more victims and are urging them to come forward.
(Interestingly, The Toronto Star newspaper reports that the initial suspect, Salim Damji, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in 2002 for defrauding fellow Ismaili Muslims of $100 million. He convinced them to invest in his fake teeth whitening product.)
In April 2014, the York Regional Police Major Fraud Unit became aware of a suspect who had befriended a victim at a bar in Aurora. After several meetings with the victim, the suspect convinced her that if she invested money with him, he could generate significant short-term returns on those investments.
Police say the victim agreed and gave the suspect more than $50,000, which was transferred into various accounts the suspect provided. It is believed the suspect used portions of funds collected from victims to pay other victims smaller amounts of money to show return on their investments with him.
As the investigation continued, 19 additional victims were identified who had all invested similar amounts of money. In these cases, once the money had been sent by cheque, cash or wire transfer, the suspect could no longer be reached. The investigation also revealed that the initial suspect, Salim Damji, was working with several accomplices who have now been arrested and charged.
Police said they were releasing Damji’s photograph as investigators believe victims may recognize his image as he was known to use various aliases. Police are urging any victims that have not yet made a report to come forward.
* Salim Damji, 45, of Whitchurch-Stouffville (aka Sal Palermo, Sal Darsee, Santos Palermo, Rico Palermo, Santos Salvatore) is charged with fraud over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 public, laundering proceeds of crime, false pretences, false statement in writing, and forgery.
* Yiaoming Liang, 37, of Whitchurch-Stouffville is charged with fraud over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime, false pretences, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
* Shafin Damji, 47, of Toronto is charged with fraud over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime, false pretences, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
* Ansari Farhan, 32, of Toronto is charged with fraud over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime, false pretences, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Anyone with information can contact Detective Ken Bardai #961 with the York Regional Police Major Fraud Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6671, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com, or text your tip to CRIMES (274637) starting with the word YORK.