The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has made an arrest and laid multiple charges after an investigation into a SIM swap scam operating in Halton Region.

In February of 2024 the HRPS Regional Fraud Unit began a three month long investigation labelled Project Buff where police identified a fraud network operating within Halton Region and the surrounding area. As a result of the investigation into the SIM swap scam, on April 18, 2024, two male suspects were arrested and charged with multiple offences. See original release here.

Following up on investigative leads garnered from these arrests a third suspect was identified and a search warrant sought.

On May 2, 2024, a search warrant was executed at an apartment in Toronto.

As a result of the search warrant, the following items were located and seized by police:

  • 200 counterfeit identity documents (Drivers Licenses, SIN Cards and Birth Certificates)
  • Notebooks and Portfolios containing personal identifying information

Investigators identified 136 victims who had their identity compromised.   

As a result of the investigation, Michael O’Hara (60), has been charged with the following:

  • Fraud Over $5,000 (3 counts)
  • Personation with Intent (3 counts)
  • Possess Counterfeit Mark (3 counts)
  • Failure to Comply with Release Order (3 counts)

O’Hara has been released on an undertaking with an upcoming court date scheduled for May 21, 2024 in Milton.

Investigation is ongoing and further charges are anticipated.

 

Be aware of the Scam

 Scammers are using SIM swapping and phone number porting to gain access to your email, social media and financial accounts. From there, they can access your personal information and data.

With this information, they may:

  • empty your bank accounts
  • apply for credit in your good name
  • impersonate you to defraud your entire contact list

In the event of a SIM Swap, you will lose service to your mobile device (an indicator that your phone number has been ported). Once the fraudsters have access to your account, they will immediately begin resetting your passwords and gain knowledge of your security answers.

How it works

Your SIM card connects your phone number and mobile service to your mobile device. You connect dozens of your accounts to your mobile device through the use of applications. Most application logins are linked to your email address, phone number or both (if you setup two-factor authentication).

A fraudster will impersonate you to gain access to your mobile account and may claim that their phone has been lost or stolen. Your phone number will be linked to a new SIM and device that the fraudster controls.

The fraudster then downloads a series of the most popular and most attractive applications. They will select the 'Forgot Password' button on all applications. If an account is associated to your phone number or email address, the fraudster will receive a verification code. They will then use this code to confirm ownership of the account, create their own password and takeover the accounts

Additional resources are also available at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca 

 

Media Inquiries: 

Halton Regional Police Service

Media Relations

Phone: 905-825-4899

Email: corpcomm@haltonpolice.ca