Peel Regional Police have announced the arrests of 12 individuals allegedly involved in an intricate vehicle theft and auto insurance fraud ring. The ring was operating in and around the Greater Toronto Area. The arrests come as the result of an extensive investigation, codenamed Project Memphis, initiated in early 2023 following a tip from a vigilante member of the public.
Project Memphis Unveiled: A Meticulous Investigation
Project Memphis, characterized as a “lengthy” and “complex” undertaking, as per this YouTube video, aimed to uncover the details of a sophisticated criminal operation. At a press conference on Wednesday, November 29th, law enforcement disclosed that the investigation led to the successful recovery of nine stolen vehicles and brought more than 81 charges against the suspects.
Sophisticated Operation Unveiled: The Modus Operandi
The modus operandi of the accused group involved targeting vehicles from both driveways and dealership lots. The stolen vehicles, including luxury models like BMWs, Range Rovers, and Bentleys, were estimated to have a collective value of $1.2 million. What helped this operation succeed was the methodical re-vinning (Vehicle Identification Number) of stolen cars. The criminals then enlisted individuals to purchase these unlawfully acquired vehicles.
During the news conference, Acting Detective Sergeant Simon Kennedy revealed that the accused had used their prior knowledge of the automotive and finance industry to execute these fraudulent transactions. The re-vinned vehicles were allegedly trafficked to buyers – who were compensated for their involvement in fraudulently purchasing the stolen automobiles.
“It was determined that the accused individuals used their pre-existing knowledge in the automotive and finance industry to complete these fraudulent transactions. It is believed that the re-vinned vehicles were trafficked to buyers who were paid to fraudulently buy the vehicles,” Acting Det. Sgt. Simon Kennedy told CP42. “In some cases, the buyers attempted to submit fraudulent insurance claims by reporting their vehicle stolen.”
The accused individuals, described as having a background in the automotive or automotive finance industry, used their insider knowledge to circumvent systems designed to prevent such fraudulent activities. This sheds light on the cold and calculated nature of the criminal enterprise.
Recovery and Prevention: Seized Vehicles and Foiled Insurance Fraud
The vehicles seized during Project Memphis were traced back to various locations, including Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton. Some of the implicated individuals allegedly trafficked the stolen vehicles through local dealerships, unbeknownst to the dealers involved. In addition to the recovery of stolen vehicles, law enforcement highlighted that Project Memphis “prevented $350,000 in insurance fraud.”
Charges and Alleged Perpetrators: A Diverse Group from Multiple Locations
The accused individuals, aged between 23 and 36, reside in various locations, including Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton. Charges against them include trafficking in stolen goods, fraud over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, and forgery. This diverse range of charges shows off the comprehensive nature of their alleged criminal activities. The individuals charged in connection with the case are Tristan Serrano, 26, Josh Cunanan, 24, Franc Martin Cruz, 23, Destiny Ogieva, 25, Rahul Bedi, 25, Andrew Enriquez, 26, Martin Suyat, 26, Angelyne Suyat, 32, Krista Mcintyre, 29, John Ruivivar, 24, Mahmoud Chehadeh, 36, and Sear Azeem, 24.