A married couple, one of whom had worked as a fraud detection agent at a financial institution, are facing charges in connection with a multi-million-dollar fraud investigation.

Police say they began an investigation into an alleged fraud on June 28 after a woman attempted to cash a certified cheque at a money-service business that was later determined to be fraudulent.

According to Det. Const. Micheal Lane, investigators subsequently determined that the same suspects had cashed “hundreds” of fraudulent checks at financial institutions around the city using assumed identities.

Lane said that further investigation also revealed that the suspects used assumed identities and fake businesses to apply for credit cards, take out loans and purchase automobiles and heavy equipment, which were then shipped to Quebec for resale.

In some cases, he said the suspects also used fake pay stubs from the fake businesses as proof of income for the purpose of acquiring credit and vehicle loans.

The detective said that the scheme was “very sophisticated.”

He said that the suspects often registered their businesses with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and built websites to ensure that they would appear to be legitimate if looked up by a loan officer. He said that the suspects also had specific phones associated with each business.

“It was a very sophisticated operation,” he said. “To be this detailed, keeping records of the names and phones associated to each person and business, it was a very elaborate scheme.”

14 arrests

Police have arrested a total of 14 people over the course of their eight-month-long investigation but Lane said that it his belief that the married couple taken into custody over the weekend had a “bigger” role to play in the scam, based on the documents and fraudulent identification found during the execution of a search warrant at their home.

He said that all-told police believe that the operation has netted the equivalent of $8.1 million in ill-gotten goods and currency, some of which has been recovered.

“They gained a lot of prosperity in relation to this,” Lane said, noting that the scam likely dates back years.

Active investigation

Police continue to actively investigate the fraud and Lane said that investigators are currently working to determine whether the assumed identities used by the suspects to obtain credit belong to members of the public or were made up.

“My main concern right now is that I hope some of these people haven’t had their lives turned upside down,” he said of other potential victims.

Balasubramaniam Shanjeefkaran, 35, of Ajax, was arrested on Feb. 10 and charged with five offences, including fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime.

Sukanya Panchalingam, 30, of Ajax, was arrested on Feb. 13 and charged with three offences, including fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime.

Though Sukanya Panchalingam did work as a fraud detection agent at a financial institution, Lane said police are still working to determine the significance of that.