Toronto man is third facing fraud charges after Project Buff investigation in Halton

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Published May 14, 2024 at 1:34 pm

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A Toronto man is facing a dozen fraud-related charges after being arrested by Halton police.

The charges are in relation to an investigation into a SIM swap scam operating in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills. This is the third person charged following the investigation.

In February, the Halton Fraud Unit began a three month long investigation labelled Project Buff, where police identified a fraud network operating in Halton Region and the surrounding area.

As a result of the investigation into the SIM swap scam, two male suspects were arrested and charged with multiple offences.

Following up on investigative leads garnered from these arrests, a third suspect was identified and a search warrant sought.

On May 2, a search warrant was executed at an apartment in Toronto where the following items were seized:

  • 200 counterfeit identity documents (drivers’ licenses, SIN cards and birth certificates)
  • Notebooks and portfolios containing personal identifying information

Investigators identified 136 victims who had their identity compromised.

As a result of the investigation, Michael O’Hara, 60, has been charged with three counts each of rraud over $5,000, personation with intent, possess counterfeit mark and failure to comply with release order.

O’Hara has been released on an undertaking with an upcoming court date scheduled for May 21 in Milton.

According to police, the investigation is ongoing and further charges are anticipated.

Police said scammers are using SIM swapping and phone number porting to gain access to your email, social media and financial accounts. From there, they can access your personal information and data.

With this information, they can empty your bank accounts, apply for credit in your name, or impersonate you to defraud your entire contact list.

In the event of a SIM Swap, you will lose service to your mobile device (an indicator that your phone number has been ported). Once the fraudsters have access to your account, they will immediately begin resetting your passwords and gain knowledge of your security answers.

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