Major car theft bust drives charges for four including Oshawa man

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Published June 21, 2024 at 11:59 am

Mississauga man charged in connection with protest in Toronto

A major investigation into an alleged car theft ring has resulted in 28 charges against four men, including one from Oshawa.

Toronto Police launched the investigation “Project Poacher” back in January. The investigation targeted a group police believed was stealing cars, creating new vehicle identification numbers and re-selling them to unsuspecting buyers.

Investigators claim the group was working with a Service Ontario employee who provided false vehicle documents and plates.

The suspected car thieves would provide this employee with VINs from cars that had already been sold and exported out of Canada, police allege. Then, investigators continue, the Service Ontario worker would create registration documents and plates for the car in exchange for a payout.

Once the documents were in order, the accused allegedly attached the newly created VIN to the car so it appeared legitimate. Often the registrations were associated with people who had already died or who never existed at all. The group then sold the cars to unsuspecting buyers or used them to commit other crimes, police say.

In May, investigators raided seven locations including homes, cars and commercial garages. They seized several cars, documents and devices associated with the scheme.

In total, they believe the group stole and “revinned” more than 100 cars worth $9.5 million altogether. Of that, about 20 of the cars were “luxury vehicles” worth $1.8 million alone.

The four accused include;

  • Shakaib Hashmi, 27 of Toronto
  • Aaron Mundy, 23 of Oshawa
  • Antonio Valle-Garay, 22 of Vaughn
  • Howard Lee, 25 of Markham

Hashmi and Mundy face nine charges each including;

  • participation in a criminal organization
  • fraud over $5,000
  • tampering with a vehicle identification number
  • forgery
  • using a forged document
  • possession of identity information to commit an offence
  • making documents without authority
  • using documents without authority
  • obtaining based on a forged document

Valle-Garay faces four charges;

  • participation in a criminal organization
  • fraud over $5,000
  • tampering with a vehicle identification number
  • using a forged document

Lee, the Service Ontario worker, is looking at six similar charges;

  • participation in a criminal organization
  • fraud over $5,000
  • tampering with a vehicle identification number
  • using a forged document
  • obtaining based on a forged document
  • breach of trusts

“When purchasing a used vehicle, police recommend that buyers obtain vehicle history reports. Re-vinned vehicles will often have discrepancies in their vehicle histories such as being the wrong colour or having inconsistent odometer readings,” police said.

Anyone with information can call police at 416-808-5300 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

 

 

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