Self-proclaimed 'crypto king' solicited investments as recently as February: Police

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WHITBY, ONTARIO — Police in the Greater Toronto Area say a man charged with fraud and money laundering, who called himself the “crypto king,” tried to solicit investments as recently as February.

Durham Region’s police chief says 25-year-old Aiden Pleterski and a 27-year-old associate have been charged with fraud over $5,000 and Pleterski was also charged with laundering proceeds of crime.

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Chief Peter Moreira says police began an investigation dubbed Project Swan after receiving complaints in July 2022 about an investment fraud promising large weekly profits through “savvy investments.”

He says the months-long investigation was “extremely thorough” as it involved many interviews, more than 40 court orders to gather evidence, a large number of alleged victims and analysis of thousands of financial documents.

Bankruptcy filings related to Pleterski show that he allegedly received $41.5 million from investors but only invested 1.6 per cent of the funds, instead spending $15.9 million on exotic vehicles, private jet rentals and other luxuries.

The trustee report said about $431,000 had been recovered from his bank accounts.

Stephen Henkel, senior investigator for the Ontario Securities Commission, which was involved in the investigation, says the alleged fraud was massive and involved several jurisdictions.

He says Pleterski and his associate were not registered “in any capacity” with the regulator, and they were not permitted to trade securities or provide 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.

Moreira and Henkel asked people who may have been a victim of Pleterski, his associate or their company, AP Private Equity, to contact police.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2024.

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