Toronto man who pretended to be lawyer charged with fraud

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Police in Barrie, Ont., say a 31-year-old Toronto man, accused of orchestrating an elaborate ruse to dupe people into believing he was a lawyer, is facing charges.

Investigators allege that over the course of several years the accused created a public image of being an aspiring law student, working towards the goal of becoming a lawyer.

They say he eventually led his alleged victims to believe that he had graduated from law school, written and passed the bar exam in Ontario, and been offered employment by a law firm.

The suspect is alleged to have created forged documents which he disseminated to people in order to support his claims.

Police allege he was successful in defrauding two people of significant amounts of money, which was intended to be used for various purposes related to his career and services as a lawyer.

They say the man is charged with fraud over $5,000, fraud under $5,000, two counts of uttering forged documents and uttering threats.

Mississauga man faces fraud, corruption charges

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Via the Hamilton Spectator By Steve Arnold

A former Halton Region official has been charged with fraud, corruption and taking kickbacks in connection with the handling of more than $100 million in construction projects.

The charges against David Ohashi were announced Wednesday morning by Halton police in a news release.

Police said the charges followed a year-long investigation prompted by an anonymous tip last year. The investigation centred on allegations the veteran manager “gained personal benefit between November 2010 and January 2016 by providing confidential information and advantage to contractors that he had personal relationships with.”

Ohashi, 56, of Mississauga, was fired from his $125,000-a-year position as manager of Plant Capital and Engineering in January after 16 years with the region.

He faces charges of fraud under $5,000, use of a forged document, three counts of municipal corruption and three counts of accepting secret commissions.

“Ohashi’s position within the region also permitted him to approve maintenance and/or construction to the region’s infrastructure that was later deemed not necessary or without justification,” the police news release said. “Ohashi also submitted altered business expense claims to the region for personal travel outside of Canada.”

The police charges are allegations only. Nothing has been proven in court.

Det. Const. Keith Nakahara, of the Halton police fraud bureau, said in an interview that Ohashi’s position gave him control of construction projects for the region’s sewer and water treatment facilities.

“These were complicated projects that allowed someone to misrepresent details about the contracts,” he said. “He had the chance to create a situation where companies he wanted to succeed could win contracts.

Nakahara said the charges levelled Wednesday concern three large projects valued at more than $100 million. He would not specify the projects because the investigation is continuing into some of the companies involved in those contracts.

Nakahara said the investigation was a complicated affair that included obtaining more than 15 judicial authorizations — basically search warrants — to access banking and other institutional records.

Throughout the course of the probe, he added, Halton region officials co-operated at every stage. Officials also conducted an internal probe that led to Ohashi’s firing on Jan. 21.

Police added “the investigation did not uncover any information that would indicate wrongdoing by any other current or former member of the Region of Halton.”

Halton staff, citing ongoing legal proceedings, refused to elaborate on how an alleged fraud could go on for more than five years without being uncovered.

“Because of the legal proceedings, we are unable to comment on specifics. We have fully cooperated with the police investigation and will continue to do so,” regional spokesperson Stacey Hunter said in an email exchange.

“Halton Region has a rigorous code of conduct and a comprehensive corporate fraud policy. We have a robust program of controls in place to prevent or identify inappropriate behaviour including: a strongly adhered to purchasing bylaw, and related policies and procedures and an internal audit group,” she said. “We are confident we have the systems and oversight in place to protect the taxpayer.”

Regional chair Gary Carr, through the communications staff, refused further comment. Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, also a regional councillor, similarly refused comment through his staff.

In a telephone interview, planning and public works committee chair Colin Best said the question of how the alleged frauds went on so long will be covered in a report the committee expects to receive at its Sept. 3 meeting.

Despite the allegations, he said taxpayers can be assured their money is being properly handled.

“That’s why we have our control measures, to ensure that the taxpayer’s interests are protected,” he said.

Ohashi is scheduled to appear in court in Milton on Sept. 13.

Halton police ask that anyone with information relevant to the ongoing investigation call the Regional Fraud Unit at 905-825-4747 ext. 8739. Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477, through haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting Tip201 with a message to 274637.

Private Investigations Business: 5 Myth Vs. Reality

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Being in the private investigation business is very rewarding, but the rewards and bonuses may not be what you think they would be. While it is true that the work is fascinating, intense, and exciting, we are not really like super investigators with their own lab in the car, choppers, and all that jazz that you see in the movies.

Being a private investigator is more for the cerebral kind of folks, those who enjoy getting facts straightened out and getting to the bottom of things so, in that vein, we’ll be dispersing some private investigator myths in this article!

Myth: Private investigators are rolling in dough, that’s why they have cool cars and gadgets.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Real life isn’t like the movies. Most private investigators are either sole proprietorship or work with only a very small team of solo to just less than 5 individuals. Rates may be high at around $50 to $100 an hour for most, but that cash is used to pay for things that are part of the job…not to mention we get taxed like other people and businesses do!

Myth: ‘Real’ private investigators live like James Bond.

Well, James Bond is an international high-order spy plus a fictional character. Real private investigators earn every penny of what they make on ‘thrilling’ surveillance shifts, where the highlight of the whole shift is probably just someone checking their mail box or retrieving the morning paper. Once in a while, you get to wait at courthouses for paperwork and such. What an adrenalin rush, right?

Myth: Private investigators have an unending stream of very loyal clients

No matter how great you are at your job as a private investigator, once you’ve served your purpose, the client will have no more need of you. That’s actually how we know if we did a great job in half of the cases we handle.

There would be no pats on the back, no promotions, no certificates, and accolades, but you know what? You’ll learn that a paid invoice is oftentimes the best acknowledgment you’ll get off of a job well done, even if you went well beyond in terms of service provided.

Myth: The general public is a private investigator’s unending stream of clients.

The truth is, most people think a private investigator can just tap into someone else’s phone, view someone from a satellite feed, ninja-sashay into someone else’s home, and more. All of that can land a private investigator in prison or real trouble!

So you see, the higher hourly rate is totally worth it, just say it’s for your aspirin budget.

Myth: Being a private investigator is a walk in the park.

Besides being a people-person, you will have to be tech savvy, business savvy, and be a self-motivation master to be a private investigator. In this age, you need not only know how to use surveillance gadgets but also know how to set up your internet presence – that means you need to know about SEO strategies, networking, marketing, and more.

We’re not saying being a private investigator sucks, we’re saying it takes a special kind of person to enjoy a career in private investigation. Want to join our ranks of Toronto private investigators? A career in private investigation might be for you! Contact us today!

KPMG Report Says Insurance Sector Needs Drastic Measures to Reinvent Itself

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A new report by KPMG report shared data that could be alarming for some people. The report shared that only half of the global insurers who participated in the poll believe that they can extract and sustain value from business transformation initiatives. Furthermore, 57% of the poll respondents admitted that they have had less than successful in their transformation efforts.

The report was released through Forbes Insights and featured the results of the survey wherein 70 insurance executives from all over the world participated. The poll was conducted by the audit, tax, and advisory services firm KPMG to find out about global insurers’ perceptions of the biggest risks they face, their current capabilities, and their recent transformation initiatives. Of the respondents, 19% are from Asia Pacific, 33% are from the Americas, and about half, 48% are from Europe.

Empowered for the Future?

The KPMG report, with the title, Empowered for the Future: Insurance Reinvented, insurers are struggling to adapt their organizations for the future, although they do know that they urgently need to transform existing practices to be ready for it. A statement by KPMG says that insurers are not placing enough attention on the changing needs and preferences of their clientele and are mostly focused on implications of regulatory policy. The statement also added that less than a fourth of those polled expect that their current operations can be disrupted by changes in customer behavior.

The report’s lead author and KPMG’s global lead partner for insurance innovation and change Mary Trussell notes that very little has changed although insurers have been trying to transform their organizations for tens of years. She added that more fundamental changes need to be done in the insurance business and their operations if they are to truly adapt to the future.

Uphill Battle for Sustainability

Although 53% of the insurers that achieving short-term transformation is doable, the same cannot be said for a sustainable transformational outcome.

KPMG International global head of insurance Gary Reader said that it takes a more strategic approach to truly accomplish an organization’s reinvention and that it is far more complicated than most insurers have done with their past initiatives.

Change and Technology

Another interesting data from the report is that insurers are now seriously viewing new technology as a catalyst for change. 47% are recognizing that apps and mobile platforms are creating new opportunities for transformation and are forcing their business to change. 41% said the same about data and analytics and 45% concurred that the same can be said about social collaboration and networking.

The survey noted that a third of the respondents shared that they were watching non-insurance businesses to help them find inspiration to help reinvent their organizations. Reader further notes that insurers are taking approaches and ideas from other sectors to come up with effective strategies themselves, a move that allows insurers to compete with not just other insurers, but also with other businesses for customer’s attention.

Trussel shares that many insurers may still not be seeing the need to set their sights on the ultimate prize, how to be at the top of their game and not just be able to endure the changes the future is asking for them to make.

How stable is your insurance business? What changes do you need to implement to go with the tide? Will you sail to success or sink to the abyss of adaptation failure? We may be able to help. Contact us today for a consultation!

 

Mississauga man gets nine months for fraud conspiracy

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A Mississauga man has been given nine months in jail for his part in a fake identity scheme in Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener used to obtain bank credit or loans.

Nashaid Iqbal Bhatti and another man were charged in 2014 by the RCMP with fraud and money-laundering related to creating fake identities used to acquire legitimate pieces of ID and, ultimately, bank loans.

On Wednesday, Bhatti, 45, pleaded guilty in a Hamilton court to conspiring in Toronto to defraud financial institutions of more than $5,000 — and to using a forged citizenship certificate in Kitchener. He was given a nine-month sentence.

His co-accused, Tahir Mahmood, a Toronto cab driver, was sentenced in a Kitchener court on July 13 to 90 days’ intermittent jail time after pleading guilty to a charges including fraud over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The RCMP began investigating in 2013 after a Hamilton airport border officer intercepted what was believed to be a fake citizenship card that came from the United Arab Emirates and was destined for a Hamilton address.

Hamilton RCMP alleged fictitious Hamilton companies were created with local addresses to launder money through them and then either converted to bank drafts or moved overseas.

Car insurer’s fraud effort drives good Mississauga customer away


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By

I’ve been driving for a long time, and my insurance company has never asked to visit my house to check that the car I say I own is in the driveway. Nor has it asked to see my hydro bill to prove I live at the address I list on the policy.

But it can. And it did, to Jacinta Kanakaratnam, 31, whose insurance with Allstate Canada was up for renewal. Her story is an interesting look at how insurers try to fight fraud, but sometimes catch a good customer in the net. The consequence in this case is that Allstate may still have the bad ones, but it has also lost a good one.

Kanakaratnam had been an Allstate customer for a year. She received a policy renewal letter in early July, which included the standard questionnaire that updates policy information and is approved by Ontario’s insurance regulator. But she also got a second one, generated internally by the company, asking for more information.

Kanakaratnam was told the supporting documents on the second form had to be delivered in person to the Scarborough East office on Kingston Rd., where she purchased the insurance policy a year ago. This was even though she lives 50 kilometres away in Mississauga, and Allstate has offices that are closer to her home.

Allstate also wanted a report from the Ministry of Transportation outlining the driving history of every licensed household member. She would have to pay for this. The insurer wanted to visit her home and inspect her car. It asked for a copy of the car’s ownership and a utility bill to prove she lived where she said she did.

“When I received the letter, I was shocked and offended,” says Kanakaratnam. “I’ve had no claims in 10 years of driving, no late payments. Why would they ask me for this?”

As it turns out, Kanakaratnam was caught up in a broader initiative, and her upset was made worse by customer service in which common sense did not prevail. She got different answers from different people, including the head office. The personal touch was completely absent and so, confused and angry, she came to The Star for help.

Her case now sits with the company’s ombud, but it’s a moot point. She’s taking her business elsewhere.

“We appreciate the customer’s concerns and confusion around the request and we apologize for that,” said Allstate Canada spokesman Nicole Watts. “The request is to protect our customers and ensure they have proper coverage.”

Kanakaratnam has never made an insurance claim and pays her premiums on time. She has owned the same car for a decade and has lived her entire life with her family in their Mississauga home. Why would she generate red flags on renewal?

Insurance companies are in the business of assessing risk; based on that, they set their prices. In the GTA, Brampton and Scarborough are higher-risk places to insure a car, because insurance companies have a higher claims experience there. So you pay more for car insurance if you live there.

One way people who live in high-risk areas try to beat this system is to claim that they live somewhere else. Another common fraud is to insure a very old car, which then has an accident and is written off.

To an Allstate database, Kanakaratnam’s file could cause concerns. She lives in Mississauga but insures in Scarborough. She drives a 2004 Nissan Altima.

But a little human intervention would have reached a different conclusion. Kanakaratnam bought her insurance in Scarborough because she met an Allstate broker who worked at the Scarborough East office at a social function. (He no longer works for the company, she says.) He convinced her to try Allstate and issued the policy there.

Kanakaratnam has lived at the same Mississauga address for more than 25 years, she said. She bought the Altima in 2007 and while it is getting older, she rarely uses it during the week, preferring public transit. She has been insured for a decade without a claim.

Related: 10 things to know about car insurance

Allstate’s Watts said the company sends out the second request letters “when we have concerns based on trends or suspected instances so we can confirm the accuracy of our policies.”

She indicated the company had concerns about where some customers insuring through the Scarborough East agency actually lived. Many renewal letters sent via registered mail were coming back marked Return to Sender, indicating invalid addresses. So the company initiated a wider request for information. Kanakaratnam’s profile added her to the list.

“When we send these requests to a broad group, there are customers with good history and accurate records who receive them as well,” Watts said. “This may be the case for Jacinta. She was not targeted and was simply part of a broader verification exercise.”

Insurance fraud costs all of us, and is one reason why Ontario has the highest car insurance premiums in the country. Allstate, and other insurers, should rightly go after it.

But Allstate couldn’t seem to distinguish a good customer from a bad one. Nor did it seem to make much effort to find out the difference.

Toronto man arrested on fraud charges after allegedly selling fake Tragically Hip concert tickets

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A Toronto man has been charged with fraud after allegedly selling fake tickets to the Tragically Hip concert in August.

The tickets are a hot item given that the upcoming tour is expected to be the Tragically Hip’s last after the band’s frontman, Gord Downie, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

A woman purchased tickets to the show from the man in Scarborough earlier this month, contacting the seller through a Kijiji ad. When the ad remained online after she purchased the tickets, she contacted the seller again using a different name and was shown a photo of tickets using the same section, row and set numbers.

The woman arranged another meeting with the seller and brought Durham Regional Police officers with her. When they arrived, the seller attempted to flee the scene and was arrested following a brief struggle.

Coleman Ward, 27, of North York has been charged with fraud under $5,000, escape custody, resisting arrest and possession of proceeds of crime. None of the charges have been proven in court.

Anyone who believes they may have purchased fraudulent tickets is asked to contact their local police department.

Mississauga company fined $266,000 for ‘campaign of abuse’ against deaf worker

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By

A Mississauga company found to have mocked, humiliated and launched a “campaign of abuse” designed to force a deaf employee’s resignation has been ordered by Ontario’s top court to pay her $266,000.

The stinging Ontario Court of Appeal decision amplified the original damages awarded to Vicky Strudwick by more than $100,000. The result comes after four years of legal proceedings against her former employer, Applied Consumer and Clinical Evaluations (ACCE), for wrongful dismissal, breach of the human rights code and intentional infliction of mental suffering. Her lawyer called the lawsuit the “worst employment case” he’s seen in 31 years of practising.

Less than a year after she suddenly became deaf, a condition doctors believe may have been caused by a virus, the 56-year-old was fired from the polling and research firm in May 2011. By that time, she had worked there for more than 15 years and was making $12.85 per hour in her latest position.

Leading up to her dismissal, Strudwick “was belittled, isolated, humiliated and made to suffer the effects of her disability to the greatest extent possible,” the three-judge panel wrote. “This conduct was deliberate, malicious and designed to force Ms. Strudwick to quit a job she had held for almost 16 years.”

In an email to the Star, ACCE CEO Raymond Berta said his company “has been part of the Mississauga community for 30 years, with a solid track record of performance coupled with an inspiring corporate culture.

“This case occurred several years ago. As a good corporate citizen we have taken corrective action as reported and we have implemented procedures to prevent any reoccurrences.”

Andrew Hoffman, an ACCE general manager at the time, was named in the decision as “the primary participant” in Strudwick’s workplace harassment. He declined to comment on the case when reached by the Star.

Also named was Strudwick’s immediate supervisor, Liz Camilleri, who “featured prominently in (her) despicable treatment” according to the judgment. Camilleri could not be reached by the Star for comment.

Both bosses“tormented (Strudwick) for the specific purpose of making the work environment intolerable,” the court noted in its sharply worded decision, citing evidence presented in court last summer.

This included advising co-workers not to talk to Strudwick and to telephone her with information she needed. Not hearing the phone — thereby missing the information — provided her superiors with an opportunity to chastise her.

Andrew Hoffman, an ACCE general manager at the time, was named in the decision as “the primary participant” in Strudwick’s workplace harassment.
Andrew Hoffman, an ACCE general manager at the time, was named in the decision as “the primary participant” in Strudwick’s workplace harassment.   (ANDREW HOFFMAN / LINKEDIN)  

When Strudwick requested workplace accommodations — including a Canadian Hearing Society assessment, visual fire alarm, a special telephone designed for hearing impaired people, and permission to turn her desk around so she could see people as they approached her — Hoffman denied them, taking the position they were “unnecessary,” the court decision stated.

In an interview, Strudwick told the Star she had mixed emotions about the judgment.

“It doesn’t put this to rest,” she said. “I have to continue to live through this ordeal.

“It was a nightmare, that part of my life, to wake up and dread going to work. But it’s a job, so you put up with it.”

The court noted Strudwick was fired after Hoffman called her a “goddamned fool” over a “stunt” she pulled at a workplace event. The reason for the termination was for “insubordination and wilful misconduct.”

Strudwick’s lawyer, Christopher Du Vernet, told the Star he believes the case puts Ontario employers on notice that disabled workers have to be treated fairly and with respect.

“This is a warning signal for any employer contemplating disregard of employees’ human rights and it will cost them dearly if they do so,” he said. “This is a woman who came in on weekends, came in early, stayed late — her work was her life. And then she’s fired when she became disabled.”

The decision notes the company argued its penalties be deflected onto Hoffman, whose employment was terminated after Berta returned from medical leave. The court rejected this argument, stating the company “cannot escape responsibility” for the actions of its employees.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Hoffman’s employment with ACCE ended in November 2014. A statement of claim obtained by the Star shows he has sued Berta, his former boss, for wrongful dismissal following a “negligent workplace investigation” into allegations that he had harassed someone within his workplace. Hoffman’s lawyer declined to comment but said the case is ongoing.

In response, Berta has counterclaimed for damages. A statement of defence and counterclaim alleges Hoffman stole from the company and mistreated employees. Neither Berta nor his lawyer could be reached by the Star on Wednesday.

For Strudwick, it “took a lot of prayer and support from friends, family, and the Canadian Hearing Society,” but she has since learned how to accept her hearing loss, work with it and move on from her workplace “nightmare.”

Still, she recalled listening to her CD collection as her hearing began to fade so many years ago, hoping in vain it would come back. Earlier this week, she recited a biblical passage from one of her favourite songs, a religious tune titled “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.”

“At that time the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.”

If you want to know more or need our help, feel free to contact us at Haywood Hunt for an obligation-free initial consultation.

Mississauga man facing 54 charges for online credit card fraud

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A Mississauga man is facing 54 criminal charges following a four-month investigation into a series of alleged online credit card scams that were carried out across the Greater Toronto Area.

Halton regional police allege that someone placed several online orders at Best Buy using stolen credit card data. The packages were later intercepted by the accused after they were delivered by Canada Post, police say.

Police allege that the accused sometimes posed as a mail courier, trying to pick up the items from people who were understandably confused as to why packages were being delivered to their homes.

York, Durham and Peel regional police helped Halton in the investigation. Together, investigators arrested the accused after two alleged victims took photos and videos of a man who came to their doors to retrieve packages.

The accused is facing charges connected to 14 incidents that are alleged to have happened from Oakville to Minden, Ont. It is alleged that he spent roughly $40,000 using stolen credit card information.

Officers are still investigating to see if there could be others affected by the scam.

Police are asking that anyone with information call them or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Article by By Nicole Dawe, CBC News

Private Investigators and Lawyers – Working Together

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Many may not be aware of this fact, but private investigators do have specializations just like lawyers do. These days, as a private investigator’s work involve more ways of getting information, some have specialized in digital research while some go for the more ‘traditional’ route of sleuthing involving tracking and surveillance, so how beneficial will working with a private investigator be for an lawyer?

Lawyers and Private Eyes

We’ll just get it out there that there is comparable and compatible PI for each type of lawyer. Whatever a lawyer’s specialty is, whether he or she is a Criminal Defense Lawyer, a Personal Injury Lawyer, or a Mississauga Family Lawyer, there is a PI that can work with the lawyer to catch a cheating spouse, confirm the validity of an insurance claim, or to find someone who’s dodging the arm of the law.

Working Together

It is no secret that facts and evidence play a huge role in background checks, validating a personal injury, or the application of family and criminal law. Uncovering facts and evidence that are not easily attainable are part of a private eye’s job. Below are some examples of how useful a good private investigator is for a lawyer.

  1. Research of Public Records and Depositions

Private Investigators are trained to sniff out the truth, even in the ever-changing world of how our society handles and stores information. Some private investigators specialize in interviewing witnesses and other creative ways of obtaining the information needed for a case, sifting through public records and leaving no stone unturned. In cases like this, PIs work with lawyers to uncover or discover a much-needed evidence.

  1. Surveillance and Digital Research

In instances where someone has been cheating on a spouse, or someone hiding assets, it is important that the person is caught in the act or enough undeniable evidence is gathered to build a case. This can be done either through surveillance or through digital research.

People who are cheating or hiding assets can be found out through digital research and/or surveillance. Of course, a private investigator will not hack someone’s financial records but the same PI can interview witnesses, photograph and/or the subject, or rummage through discarded bank statements to find out the truth.

As for digital research, the PI can go through publicly available data via social media to collect data about a subject. Self-incrimination happens quite frequently, and people oftentimes cannot stop themselves from posting vacation pictures when they claim that they have been at home recovering from an injury.

  1. Locating People, Background Checks, and Insurance Claims

Speaking of fake injuries, let’s also add in the people who do not want to be found and those who have a shady past. PIs have ways to get a comprehensive background information about a person. Information that can pinpoint the truth about someone’s current location, real life, and/or a possible faked injury.

The role that a professional private investigator plays in the judicial process and helping lawyers speed up a case cannot be overlooked, especially in this day and age. If you’re a lawyer who’s interested in the services of a private investigator in Toronto, give the Haywood Hunt team a call today.