An investigation dating back to mid-August into allegations of fraud affecting about 30 people in the Gatineau area totalling several hundred thousand dollars has led to the arrests of two individuals from the Montreal region.
The arrests followed searches early Wednesday in Laval and Montreal by Gatineau police officers and police from Laval, Montreal, MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais and the Sûreté du Québec.
The investigation revolved around allegations of multiple thefts, followed by fraud, in Gatineau between Aug. 16 and Jan. 18. Wednesday’s searches in Laval and Montreal, police said, turned up computer equipment and other items linking the two individuals to the case.
A Gatineau police media release said Quebec’s criminal prosecutions director has authorized four charges against a 31-year-old man from Laval of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, identity fraud and failure to comply with an order.
The man was detained in custody pending a Court of Quebec hearing in Gatineau on Wednesday afternoon.
Police said a 29-year-old woman from Montreal was released from custody on a promise to appear with conditions. Police were to make a submission to the criminal prosecutions director for charges against her of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking.
On Aug. 25, Gatineau police asked for public assistance in identifying a suspect who had committed thefts at the Branchaud-Brière Complex in the Gatineau sector and the Paul-Pelletier Aquatic Centre in Aylmer, with total losses for those four victims of approximately $20,000.
Subsequently, police received other complaints concerning thefts at the same locations and at other sports facilities in Gatineau. In total, Wednesday’s release said, investigators were able to link 13 files in Gatineau and nearly 20 other files in both Quebec and Ontario.
The incidents, police claimed, occurred in essentially the same fashion.
The suspects would allegedly arrive at the facilities in a vehicle driven by the woman. The man then would enter the building and steal property belonging to other users that had been left in the changing rooms, including wallets, identity and bank cards, cellphones, car keys and jewelry. After leaving the building, the man would contact banking institutions and pass himself off as the victim before changing the personal identification numbers (PINs) associated with the bank cards. With possession of the new PINs, the suspects would later make withdrawals from accounts and purchases.
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