Toronto police seize $500K worth of fake gift cards in 'sophisticated' fraud bust
Published Thursday, February 2, 2023 12:17PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 2, 2023 12:17PM EST
Three Richmond Hill residents have been arrested after police seized $500,000 in fake gift cards from a “sophisticated forgery lab” while searching multiple local properties last month.
In a news release issued Thursday, investigators allege that between July 2022 and January 2023, three people operated a “sophisticated” forgery lab in which they altered and manufactured fraudulent gift cards.
On Jan. 25, police officers executed search warrants at a Toronto business and a Richmond Hill residence in which they seized a “vast” amount of fraudulent gift cards valued at approximately $500,000, along with computer equipment and electronics used for manufacturing fake documents.
In photos of the seized goods provided by TPS, the gift cards appear to be from brands such as Sephora, Amazon, Moxies, Gap, Starbucks, Xbox, and Canadian Tire, among others.
The same day, officers arrested three people in connection with the investigation.
Richmond Hill residents Iouri Perett, 38, and Vitalii Fokov, 35, were each charged with one count of fraud over $5,000, one count of dealing in altered gift cards, and one count of possession of proceeds obtained by crime.
Another Richmond Hill resident, 34-year-old Elizaveta Perett, was charged with one count of possession of proceeds obtained by crime.
The three are scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall in Toronto on March 10 at 11 a.m.
Police are asking anyone with additional information to contact them at 416-808-7300, or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or at www.222tips.com.
Gift card scams have been prevalent across Ontario in recent years.
Last year, an Oakville resident purchased $800 in gift cards that turned out to have no value. It took about six months, many calls to Petro Canada, and contacting CTV News Toronto before he received a refund.
Gift cards are a billion-dollar business and while the vast majority of them are given and received without any issues, there are a growing number of cases where gift cards that are legitimately purchased have no value.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Pat Foran