A Winnipeg man has been arrested for impersonating a police officer, his eighth time facing the charge. 

Thomas Hanaway is accused of falsely representing himself online as a member of the RCMP dive team.

"He would have several profiles on social media," said Const. Jay Murray, with the Winnipeg Police Service. 

"So he would start there with these fictitious profiles and from there, he would engage discussion with groups and take part in it." 

Hanaway has seven convictions dating back to 2009 for personating police. 

Murray said many members of the online groups were divers and police officers. 

"I believe he said at one point he was a member of the navy dive community, the RCMP dive community and just scuba diving in general," Murray said. 

"I'm not sure why he is doing what he is doing, if he is living some sort of fantasy. I don't know."

Eventually, people started to notice signs that the person behind the online profiles might not be an RCMP dive expert and notified police. 

The major crimes unit started an investigation in March and Hanaway was arrested on Tuesday.

Murray said it's always concerning when a person pretends to be a police officer. 

"It's a very serious offence and it's not something that we take lightly," he said. 

"When someone is posing as a police officer, the last thing we want to happen is this individual provide information or advice to someone when they are not qualified to do so and potentially cause further harm or compromise an investigation."

Multiple complaints

Hanaway was found guilty of personating a police officer in 2016 after Manitoba RCMP received multiple complaints from across North America about an officer inappropriately using social media and other online forums.

At that time, police said he used the name of an active Manitoba police officer to talk with people online.

In 2010, Hanaway was found guilty of trying to pass himself off as a high-ranking RCMP officer.

He went to a military veterans' legion in East St. Paul, north of Winnipeg, and told people he was the commander of the local RCMP detachment, police said in 2010.