Peel police say 12 people accused of operating a vehicle theft and auto insurance fraud ring in and around the Greater Toronto Area have been arrested following a “lengthy” and “complex” investigation.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, police said nine stolen vehicles were seized and more than 81 charges have been laid in the investigation, dubbed Project Memphis.

The investigation was launched in early 2023 following a tip from a member of the public, police said.

Over the course of the investigation, police said officers learned of a group that was stealing vehicles from driveways and dealership lots, re-vinning the cars, and then paying people to buy the stolen vehicles.

“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 reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

“In some cases, the buyers attempted to submit fraudulent insurance claims by reporting their vehicle stolen.”

Police said the vehicles seized in the investigation, which include BMWs, Range Rovers, and a Bentley, were valued at $1.2 million.

Investigators also said Project Memphis “prevented $350,000 in insurance fraud.”

Police allege that some of the vehicles were trafficked through local dealerships, which were unaware of the illegal activity.

Investigators said the “majority of the individuals” charged have previously been employed in the automotive or automotive finance industry.

According to police, the vehicles were trafficked in a way that was “complex” and involved “insider knowledge to circumvent certain systems that are in place to prevent” this type of fraud.

Those accused in the case reside in Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton. The charges include trafficking in stolen goods, fraud over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, and forgery.

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, Sear Azeem, 24, have been charged in connection with the case.