Project Luxe recovers $1.6 million in stolen cars; Oakville, Mississauga men charged
Published November 13, 2023 at 12:50 pm
Three men have been charged and $1.6 million in stolen vehicles – including at least four high-end cars each worth more than $300,000 – have been recovered in an international fraud operation dubbed ‘Project Luxe.’
Halton Regional Police’s fraud unit launched an investigation this past summer into a gang posing as luxury car dealers, with the suspects visiting dealerships throughout the GTA where they fraudulently obtained several high-end vehicles. The “sophistication” of this particular scam, police said, and “exceptional quality” of the documents they produced enabled the group to carry out similar frauds at other southern Ontario area dealerships as well.
Halton Police took the provincial lead on the operation and were able to successfully identify members of the crime ring and their connections to a broader distribution network.
Local investigators were assisted by Homeland Security, The New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police, Toronto Police, OPP and the FBI. Successful vehicle recoveries were made throughout Ontario and in the U.S. Many of the intercepted vehicles were destined for export overseas.
Police peg the estimated value of the recovered vehicles totals at more than $1.6 million. Among the vehicles recovered during Project Luxe were a Ferrari F8 Spider (valued at $600,000), a 2023 Maybach GLS600 ($300,000-plus), a 2020 Lamborghini Urus ($300,000), a 2023 Porche 911 Turbo ($225,000), and a 2017 Mercedes E400, and 2021 Dodge Durango (both valued at more than $60,000).
Search warrants were carried out this month at locations throughout the GTA, resulting in the seizure of evidence that police say links the accused to the alleged offences. This included equipment used to replicate security features for various methods of secure payment.
Enoch Johnson, 40, of Mississauga is charged with fraud and possession-related offences. Ahmad Amiri, 29, of Oakville and Isaac Osunde, 27, of no fixed address are both charged with possession of stole property over $5,000.
Halton Police want to remind the public members about steps they can take to help prevent fraud when selling your vehicle, including:
- Exercising common sense and good judgement in dealings with any prospective buyers and throughout the process.
- Approaching situations that make you feel uneasy with caution. Be mindful that scammers often use high-pressure tactics to have you enter into a sale before you can exercise your due diligence.
- Securing payment before you transfer ownership. When you accept any form of payment, verify it with the issuing bank (don’t rely on your own bank, if different). Although your bank may accept a cheque or money order, the payment sometimes doesn’t clear for several days (or weeks).
- Verifying the buyer’s identity with a driver’s licence, and one other form of identification – be sure they include name and address.
- Being cautious when engaged by distant buyers. Although not necessarily scammers, be wary of anyone who makes an offer to buy your car sight unseen or a sale in which someone else who arrives to pick it up and complete the transaction.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the HRPS Regional Fraud Unit at 905-825-4777.
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