The West Shore RCMP Crime Reduction Unit has uncovered a massive identity theft and fraud operation on Vancouver Island.
According to a police report, an investigation was launched on Sept. 18 when the crime unit received a complaint about a fraudulent bank draft that was used to make a purchase of a used vehicle from a dealership in Colwood.
This triggered investigators to look into the matter, leading to the discovery of four other transactions where fraudulent bank drafts were used to purchase vehicles from other Vancouver Island dealerships.
The unit was able to track down the vehicles as part of the investigation and identify two suspects.
Police said they determined that one of the vehicles was used in a recent break and enter that took place in September at Adams Storage in View Royal, where eight separate lockers were reportedly broken into. Personal documents and identification cards were among the items stolen from these lockers as part of the break-in.
On Oct. 21, the West Shore RCMP Crime Reduction Unit executed a search warrant at a Langford residence of one of the suspects.
According to the police report, officers found stolen contents of the eight storage units along with a vast amount of evidence of identity and bank fraud.
Police believe the stolen personal documentation was being used to make a variety of fraudulent cards including BC Identification cards, BC drivers licence cards, firearms licences, status cards, credit and gift cards as well as fraudulent bank drafts and cheques. Investigators seized sophisticated equipment including credit card embossers, credit card PIN machines, heavy-duty printers and computers used to create the fraudulent cards. said Const. Nancy Saggar, West Shore RCMP Media Relations Officer.
Officers say they are still looking over the evidence and returning the stolen goods to their rightful owners.
Two suspects have been arrested for possession of stolen property and fraud-related offences. The suspects are identified as a man and woman, both 30 years of age.
Thus far we have seized over a 1000 pieces of stolen identity cards. Officers on the Crime Reduction Unit have spoken to several identity theft victims identified in this investigation who have shared their stories of being defrauded as a result of this. One victim advised that they had been dealing with identity fraud for some time and have experienced financial hardships due to the fraudulent activity taking place under their name. The fraud that was committed here is in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Cst. John Taylor of the West Shore RCMP Crime Reduction Unit.
Police are continuing their investigation and numerous charges linked to the fraud operation are forthcoming.