Six people arrested in $200M fraud bust

RCMP Insp. Henry Tso (R) and Supt. Dave Bellamy (background) speak to media in Toronto about a...

RCMP Insp. Henry Tso (R) and Supt. Dave Bellamy (background) speak to media in Toronto about a fraudulent investment investigation, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Jack Boland/QMI Agency

Maryam Shah, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:34 AM ET

TORONTO — Six Greater Toronto Area residents face charges in a massive investment scam the RCMP claims cost thousands of investors and Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars.

RCMP launched Project Obedience in April 2012 after a complaint from the public regarding a possible "tax avoidance scheme."

The extensive investigation alleges "there was a group of people operating a very complex fraud investment scheme that had impacted thousands of Canadians and defrauded the federal government of over $200 million," Supt. David Bellamy said Wednesday.

The RCMP alleges the group sold "business losses" from various companies to unsuspecting investors, who could then claim the loss and receive a tax refund exceeding their investment.

"However, the problem was these were not legitimate business losses," Bellamy alleged.

"Some of the losses were actually fictitious and generated through the manipulation of financial statements, while other losses were generated by companies controlled by the accused.”

Later, when some investors were audited by the Canada Revenue Agency, "their refund was disallowed," he said.

More than 5,000 investors were affected between 2004 and 2012, with over $100 million invested, Insp. Henry Tso said.

The RCMP estimated people lost anywhere between $1,000 to $300,000 on their investments.

The group allegedly marketed itself online and also operated under companies with names such as Synergy Group 2000, IBCA 2009, and Cason Global Wealth Association, among others.

Arrested were Vincent "Vince" Villanti, 66, of Whitby; Shane Davidson Smith, 46, of Peterborough; David Prentice, 52, of Oakville; Ravendra "Ravi" Chaudhary, 65, of North York; Andrew Lloyd, 42, of Pickering; and Joe Loschiavo, 49, of Etobicoke.

All face two counts of fraud over $5,000 and commission of an offence for a criminal organization. Investigators said further arrests and charges are possible as the investigation continues.


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