Whitby’s ‘Crypto King’ investigation the largest fraud case in police force history

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Published May 16, 2024 at 12:55 pm

Whitby's 'Crypto King' investigation the largest fraud case in Durham history: Chief

Durham Police have confirmed the investigation into Whitby’s self-proclaimed “Crypto King” is the largest fraud case in the Region’s history with millions of dollars in losses to investors.

Investigators announced the arrest of “Crypto King” Aiden Pleterski, 25 of Whitby, and Colin Murphy, 27 of Oshawa, on fraud and money laundering charges. This investigation, dubbed “Project Swan” was launched in July 2022 and included Durham, Halton, Toronto and York Police, the OPP, CBSA as well as the provincial capital market regulator, the Ontario Securities Commission.

Around that time, Pleterski first made headlines when he and his shell company AP Private Equity, faced nearly 30 lawsuits from creditors trying to recoup $35 million. The investor began to come forward to police at this time after becoming unable to access their funds, despite Pleterski’s alleged claim they would not lose their initial investments.

Pleterski began investing family and friends’ money in cryptocurrencies over the pandemic, quickly finding success. He soon expanded his client list to include at least 140 investors from around the GTA. Investigators are unable to comment on the true number of victims or losses due to a court-ordered publication ban.

They further allege he skimmed a great deal of money off the top to fund a $45,000 per month rented house in Burlington, numerous luxury cars and high-end watches and jewelry. At that time, investors were only able to recover about $2 million in goods, including Lamborgini and McLaren luxury cars.

However, investors and fraud investigators allege Pleterski was conducting a Ponzi scheme, taking money from later investors and using it to pay out earlier ones. Likewise, Murphy allegedly “claimed to be generating large weekly profits through savvy investments” to sway investors who, police say, never saw returns.

Following the pair’s arrest earlier this month, Durham Police Chief Peter Moriera and OSC investigator Steven Henkle held a press conference in Whitby to disclose some details of the case. However, their comments were constrained by the publication ban.

Due to this publication ban, investigators were unable to confirm the exact number of victims, the exact amount of money lost, or what connection, if any, exists between Murphy and Pleterski.

Moriera confirmed Project Swan “is believed to be the largest fraud investigation in this region.” He called it “extremely thorough with countless interviews conducted and over 40 court orders being caught to gather evidence.”

Investigators believe Pleterski remained active during the investigation and was still soliciting investors as recently as February.

About six months after the investigation began, five people allegedly kidnapped Pleterski and held him hostage for three days. According to Toronto Police, they beat and tortured him, fired a gun near his head and threatened to kill his family.

After extracting a confession and apology video from Pleterski, they released him. Five men were charged in the kidnapping case including one man who gave Pleterski nearly $750,000. The kidnapping investigation is a separate Toronto Police case and as such was not commented on today.

Henkle confirmed neither Pleterski nor Murphy were registered with the OSC “in any capacity.” “This means they are not permitted to engage in the business of trading securities or providing investment advice.” He advised anyone looking to invest to ensure their agent is OSC registered. They can do so here.

Investigators believe there are further victims and have asked anyone who encountered the pair or AP Private Equity to come forward. “We need your information and this investigation remains active,” Moreira said.

Anyone with information about the case or who engaged with AP Private Equity can report to the OSC toll-free at 1-877-785-1555.

This is a developing story.

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