Cottage booking fraud scheme netted dozens of victims, RCMP say
5 Ontarians charged in alleged fraud that police say fooled people across the country
Five southwestern Ontario residents are accused of taking part in an alleged fraud scheme in which police say dozens of people paid for fraudulent cottage rental accommodations they saw online.
The RCMP issued a news release on Friday describing an investigation that led to the arrest of five people from Windsor, Ont., and nearby Essex County.
It is alleged that the accused individuals posted advertisements online "for cottage rentals in popular vacation areas."
Police say people who wanted to rent these properties communicated with the group through emails and text messages.
The would-be vacationers paid for these bookings with email money transfers. But police say the people who put the ads online "did not own or have any right to offer any of the advertised cottages for rent."
More than $50K paid
Police say that the people paying for these bookings often did not discover the alleged fraud until arriving at their destinations.
"This resulted in significant inconvenience and large additional costs as the victims had to arrange alternate vacation accommodations at the last minute," police say.
Police began their investigation in August of last year. The five accused, who range in age from 21 to 26, were charged on Thursday. They jointly face charges of fraud over $5,000, laundering the proceeds of crime and possession of the proceeds of crime.
According to the RCMP, there are 45 alleged victims from across Canada who together paid more than $50,000 to the group.
The accused are due to appear in a London court in January. The charges against them have not been proven in court.