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Ontario’s ‘Crypto King’ solicited funds as recently as February, police allege after arrest

Durham Region’s police chief said Thursday the arrest of Ontario’s self-proclaimed “Crypto King” and one of his associates on fraud charges resulted from the “largest fraud investigation” in the region, located east of Toronto.

Chief Peter Moreira said Durham Regional Police first received complaints about investment fraud involving Aiden Pleterski, 25, and his company AP Private Equity in July 2022. Those complaints kicked off the investigation, dubbed Project Swan, which involved “countless” interviews, 40 court orders to gather evidence and thousands of pages of financial documents, Moreira said.

“It’s alleged that Pleterski solicited funds from investors promising massive profits and also guaranteeing no loss for the original money put out by investors,” Moreira told reporters at a news conference in Whitby, Ont.

“These investors became concerned when they were unable to access money held by Pleterski and came forward to police.”

The 18-month investigation resulted in Pleterski’s arrest on May 14. He was charged with fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime. One of Pleterski’s associates, Colin Murphy, 27, was arrested four days earlier and also charged with fraud over $5,000.

Moreira said Murphy was also soliciting investments and claimed to be generating “large weekly profits through savvy investments.” 

“Victims provided money to Murphy with the expectation that he was investing it on their behalf and would return it to them with large profits,” he said. “It is alleged these victims were ultimately defrauded and unable to recover their funds.”

A young man sits in the seat of a private jet looking at his phone.
Durham police say they first received complaints about investment fraud concerning Pleterski in July 2022. (aiden_pletersik/Instagram)

CBC Toronto has reported extensively on Pleterski since the summer of 2022, when he was forced into bankruptcy by some of his investors. For more than a year and a half now, Pleterski’s investors have been trying to track down more than $40 million they gave him to invest in cryptocurrency and foreign exchange. A Toronto-based bankruptcy proceeding that’s being heard in Ontario Superior Court has recovered about $3 million for roughly 160 investors.

An investigation by a licensed insolvency trustee found Pleterski only invested about two per cent of investor funds while spending nearly $16 million on himself — renting private jets, going on vacations, adding luxury cars to his collection and leasing a lakefront mansion prior to his bankruptcy.

Last fall, Pleterski was still jet-setting to U.K., Miami and Australia

A bristol board with photos of two men.
A placard on display at the news conference shows photos of Aiden Pleterski, 25, and Colin Murphy, 27. (Nicole Brockbank/CBC )

Stephen Henkel, senior investigator for the Ontario Securities Commission, which contributed to the investigation, said “the size of the alleged fraud was massive” and spanned several jurisdictions.

Neither Pleterski nor Murphy were registered “in any capacity” with the regulator, Henklel said, meaning they were not legally permitted to engage in the business of trading securities or providing investment advice.

“It is critical that all those considering whether to purchase digital assets or any investment product first check whether the person or the business they deal with is registered with Canadian securities regulators,” Henkel said.

Both Moreira and Henkel urged anyone who may have been a victim of Pleterski, Murphy or AP Private Equity to come forward to police, adding Pleterski may have been attempting to solicit money from new investors as recently as February this year — almost two years after investors pushed him into bankruptcy.

Pleterski was released on bail Tuesday, with his parents putting up a $100,000 surety that he will follow his bail conditions, according to court documents. Those conditions include surrendering his passport, not contacting investors, refraining from making any social media posts involving financial matters such as soliciting investments, and not buying or trading cryptocurrencies.

His arrest is just the latest twist in a more than year-long CBC Toronto investigation into the Crypto King, which has also included the arrest of one of his investors, for allegedly kidnapping him in December 2022, and a Canadian NBA star successfully suing to get out of his $8.4 million purchase of a lakefront mansion where Pleterski used to live.

Durham police Det. Dave Jaciuk from the service’s financial crime unit said due to a court-imposed publication ban he couldn’t confirm the number of victims that were allegedly defrauded, nor the total amount of money that was lost, other than to say it involved “millions.

“This was a very long investigation, we spoke to multiple witnesses and …  we know that there’s are plenty more out there,” he said. “A lot of lives have been devastated by this.”

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