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Arrests made, $1 million in stolen vehicles recovered in Ontario auto fraud investigation

Seven people have been arrested and more than $1 million in stolen automobiles have been recovered after a joint investigation into an alleged auto theft ring operating in Durham Region, York Region and Toronto, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Tuesday.

In recent months, investigators from IBC and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) identified and seized numerous stolen vehicles from containers at the ports of Montreal and Halifax and assisted police in the investigation, IBC said.

"According to police, the alleged crime ring included an informal collection of thieves who stole the cars, a licensed car dealer who fraudulently obtained Ministry of Transportation documents, a person who changed the Vehicle Information Number (VIN) on the vehicles to mask their identity and an exporter who shipped the stolen vehicles from Canada to be sold in West Africa," IBC said.

The stolen vehicles would be sealed in steel sea containers in the Greater Toronto Area and shipped to Africa via Halifax and Montreal.

Based on KPMG estimates for the Ontario anti-fraud task force, the amount of insurance fraud in Ontario is as much as $1.6 billion a year, IBC noted.

In 2014, IBC and CBSA seized more than $8 million in stolen vehicles intended for export.

Canadian Underwriter