TORONTO – The public is being warned to steer clear of a scam in which fraudsters use counterfeit bills coated in a black substance to dupe their victims.
In a recent case, Toronto police say a victim took out a real estate ad for the sale of a commercial property and was contacted by five men who said they had a large sum of money coming in from South Africa to pay for the property.
The money itself was covered in a dark coating and police say the victim was told to cover the cost of cleaning the bills while being promised more cash.
Authorities say the victim gave a large sum of money to the men before learning that the coated money was fake.
Police say the victim lost approximately $450,000.
Herman Fankem, 32, of Montreal, has been arrested and charged with fraud over $5,000.
Police believe there may be other victims and are asking anyone with information to come forward.
“Once the victim is bought into this scam, it’s very difficult for them to come out of that. They’ve bought into it, they believe in it and then the props just reinforce that,” said Det. Alan Spratt.
“Many of the suspects in this scam are very good at building rapport with the victims. They’re very clever, they’re very devious and they practice this.”
Spratt said the victim in such scams is often asked to pay for a variety of ballooning costs by the fraudsters involving cleaning chemicals, accounting fees and custom clearance payments.