Two Ontario men have been arrested and face multiple charges after a three-year police investigation revealed the duo had allegedly been running an investment scam, pocketing over $3 million in the form of loans from private investors.
Halton Police said an investigation was launched by their Fraud Unit after receiving reports from 20 complainants who had invested in Oakville-based "OOM Energy," also known as "MCS Energy."
"OOM Energy misled victims to believe that their investments were guaranteed by an insurance program, and were also supplied with forged insurance documents," Halton Police said in a press release.
— Halton Police (@HaltonPolice) July 12, 2023
Investigators say over $3 million was loaned to OOM Energy by private investors in respect to projects that involved the installation of electrical generators.
Oakville-resident Craig Hugh Clydesdale, owner of OOM Energy, and Markham-resident Thomas Craig McBeath, who worked as an insurance broker for the business, were arrested on June 16, 2023.
Both men have been charged with multiple counts of fraud over $5,000 and forgery related offences.
"It is believed that there may be more victims and witnesses in the community," said the Halton Police statement. "Anyone with further information is asked to contact D/Cst. Ed Spence of the Halton Police Regional Fraud Unit at (905) 465-8746."
How can you protect yourself against similar scams?
As Canadians spend an increasing amount of time online to shop, work or communicate, data released by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) reveals that fraud, identity crimes and associated cybercrime are growing at an alarming rate.
During 2022, CAFC received fraud reports totalling a staggering $531M in victim losses — a drastic increase from the $379 million reported during 2021 by the same agency.
#DYK @CanAntiFraud received fraud reports totaling a staggering $531M in victim losses in 2022. $138M of this was reported by victims aged 60+. On average, seniors lose 33% more than other demographics. Be your own detective. Learn more at https://t.co/95vNtWRge4. #FightFraud pic.twitter.com/Wi2y0EZYM4
— Ontario Provincial Police (@OPP_News) June 13, 2023
So what are some steps you can take to determine if a business or organization you want to invest into is a scam or legitimate?
CAFC defines an investment scam as the "solicitation for investments into false or deceptive investment opportunities. These opportunities falsely promise higher-than-normal returns. However, investors lose most or all their money."
Some examples of these include:
If you are offered unsolicited investment opportunities (even from friends and family), higher-than-normal returns, websites that appear to be fake or requests for cryptocurrency payments, your suspicions should be raised.
To protect your assets from potential scammers, CAFC warns if you choose to invest or partner with a business you are not familiar with, do the research yourself and look for possible scam alerts about the investment being offered. You can also report any fraud, even if it resulted in no money lost, to the CAFC.