Release Date: May 30th, 2019 - 11:43am
Originator: D/Constable, Mike Tidball, Regional Fraud Team, 905-825-4747 ext 8743
Contact: D/Constable, Mike Tidball, Regional Fraud Team, 905-825-4747 extension 8743
Location: Halton Region
The Halton Regional Police Service's Regional Fraud Unit has charged one person in connection with a series of thefts involving the use of the popular online advertising service "Kijiji" to target victims. The thefts occurred between October 2018 and February 2019.
The suspect would seek out victims online who were selling diamond rings or loose diamonds and would engage them in conversations over email and text. The suspect purported himself to be an employee of Morgan Stanley and used several different aliases (Rich Thompson, Alex Stanford, Cameron Woods and Albert August) to conceal his true identity. The suspect would arrange to meet his victims in public locations (GO Stations, Hotels, etc.) to ensure the exchange was "safe". Upon meeting his victims, the suspect would surrender a certified cheque in exchange for the diamond and leave the area using public transit (usually a GO Train). Each certified cheque the suspect passed was determined to be fraudulent resulting in the victims losing over $25,000 collectively.
An investigation was started by the Regional Fraud Card Team in partnership with GO Transit Safety and Security Division, and the suspect was identified as Michael Morris (30) from Whitby. On May 2, 2019 with the assistance of the Durham Regional Police Tactical Support Unit, a criminal code search warrant was executed at the residence of Morris in Whitby. At the time of the search, Morris was not located inside the residence and an arrest warrant was issued.
On May 29, 2019 with the assistance of the Provincial ROPE squad and Halton Police's Risk Mitigation Team, Morris was arrested without incident leaving a residence in City of Toronto.
Morris has been charged with the following offences:
- Four counts of fraud over $5000
- Four counts of using a forged document
- Two counts of personation with intent
- One count of possession of counterfeit money
The accused was held for bail.
Police believe there may be other occurrences involving the accused and are asking anyone with information regarding similar incidents to contact Detective Constable Mike Tidball of the Regional Fraud Card Team at 905 825-4747, ext. 8743.
Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers "See Something? Hear Something? Know Something? Contact Crime Stoppers" at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.
Please be reminded that all persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.