June 23, 2024

Two Canadian Men Arrested in $40 Million Crypto and Forex Investment Fraud

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Two Canadian men have been arrested and charged with fraud for allegedly swindling investors out of $40 million CAD (approximately $30 million USD) in a complex cryptocurrency and foreign exchange investment scheme.

Aiden Pleterski, 25, who has self-proclaimed himself the “Crypto King,” faces charges of fraud and money laundering for his role in what authorities are calling a Ponzi scheme. His associate, 27-year-old Colin Murphy, has been charged with fraud, according to an announcement made by the Ontario Securities Commission on Wednesday.

The charges stem from a 16-month investigation dubbed Project Swan, which comes amid an ongoing bankruptcy case that has garnered significant media attention in Canada.

Court documents and local media reports reveal that between 2021 and 2022, approximately 160 investors entrusted Pleterski and his company, AP Private Equity Limited, with around $40 million CAD to invest in the crypto and foreign exchange markets. Some investors reportedly took out loans to participate in Pleterski’s investment scheme.

However, the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy case discovered that Pleterski only invested 2% of the funds received and spent at least $16 million on personal luxuries. His extravagant purchases included over 10 luxury cars, international travel, and renting an $8.4 million lakefront mansion for $45,000 per month. Among the assets seized during the bankruptcy process were two McLarens, two BMWs, and a Lamborghini.

Pleterski, who also dabbles as a small-time livestreamer, documented his lavish lifestyle in videos posted online. These videos showcased his vacations to destinations like Los Angeles, London, and Miami, driving rented luxury cars, and spending large sums on personal indulgences. In one video, Pleterski estimated he had spent $150,000 on Lego sets since 2021.

During the bankruptcy proceedings, Pleterski described himself as a “20-something-year-old kid” and admitted to creditors that he was disorganized and did not keep records of his finances or payments, according to a CBC report.

In a dramatic turn of events in December 2022, Pleterski was allegedly kidnapped, beaten, and tortured by five victims of his scheme. Reports indicate that Pleterski was held for three days and tortured before his landlord-turned-mentor paid a $3 million ransom for his release. A 12-minute video of a bruised and swollen Pleterski apologizing to investors, which his lawyer later claimed was coerced, was posted to social media. Four individuals were arrested and charged with Pleterski’s kidnapping.

Since the story needed more excitement, Toronto-born NBA player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander purchased the $8.4 million lakefront mansion that Pleterski once rented. However, Gilgeous-Alexander filed a lawsuit against the seller to rescind the purchase after learning of the property’s connection to Pleterski. Reports also indicate that Gilgeous-Alexander and his girlfriend received a “threatening visit” from an individual seeking Pleterski and subsequently learned of threats to burn down the mansion.

Pleterski was released on $100,000 bail on Tuesday, with his parents signing for his release, according to CBC. His bail conditions include surrendering his passport, refraining from posting on social media about financial matters, and abstaining from buying or trading cryptocurrency.

Terry Jones
Digital Assets Desk

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