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Fraudster used COVID curbside purchase to steal 12 high-end bikes

Surrey man took advantage of COVID-19 buying practices to defraud North Van shop out of bikes worth $13K.
bicycles shutterstock
A fraudster used a fake name and credit card to scam a North Vancouver bike shop out of $13,000 worth of bicycles. Fortunately the bikes were recovered. file photo

A Surrey man who took advantage of COVID-19 curbside purchasing to rip off 12 high-end bikes worth about $13,000 from a North Vancouver bike shop has been placed on a six-month conditional sentence.

A judge in North Vancouver provincial court heard at a sentencing hearing Monday (Oct. 3) that Ryan Howard Akinkeyin, 37, used the sudden switch in buying practices in the early days of the pandemic to buy a dozen bicycles from North Vancouver’s Obsession: Bikes on Lonsdale Avenue using someone else’s name and a fraudulent credit card.

According to Crown counsel Ariana Ward, Akinkeyin ordered the bikes over the phone in two separate transactions on April 27 and May 1 of 2020 using a false name and fraudulent credit cards. And before the owner of the bicycle store could discover that they were in fact fraudulent purchases, Mr. Akinkeyin ordered a delivery van come to pick up the bicycles and deliver them to him, said Ward.

Meanwhile, a prospective purchaser of one of the bikes being sold on Craigslist checked the bike through the Vancouver Police Department’s online 529 Garage program, which flagged it as possibly stolen. That woman then contacted Obsession: Bikes, which prompted the police to beginning investigating further.

Police identified Akinkeyin as a possible suspect and began surveillance on his home in Surrey over the next month, where they observed bicycles matching the description of the bikes stolen from Obsession being ridden by Akinkeyin’s children in the neighbourhood, said Ward.

On June 3, 2020, police executed a search warrant at the home and found the stolen bicycles in a storage shed. The bikes were returned to the North Vancouver shop, where the owner was able to sell them as second-hand bicycles.

Akinkeyin’s defence lawyer Michael Shapray told the judge his client’s crimes were driven by financial pressures during the pandemic, and were primarily carried out to benefit his five children.

“I think he made a bad decision in a COVID situation with multiple children and the financial pressures he had,” said the lawyer.

Judge Susan Sangha noted, however, that “stealing high-end bikes is not akin to putting food on the table.”

Akinkeyin has since paid the bike shop owner back the approximately $3,000 he lost as a result of the theft, lawyers told the judge.

The prosecutor noted Akinkeyin has previous fraud convictions, including one in 2012 when he used a fraudulent credit card to buy $4,000 worth of goods at Costco.

Akinkeyin pleaded guilty in North Vancouver provincial court Oct. 3 to fraud over $5,000 in connection with the bike heist and was handed a six-month conditional sentence, with conditions that he must obey a curfew between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. every day, with exceptions for employment and “other reasonable purposes” as approved by his corrections officer. He was also ordered to serve 12 months of probation.

Akinkeyin must also stay away from Obsession: Bikes and can’t own a bike unless it has been registered in the Vancouver Police Department’s Garage 529 program in advance, the judge ordered.

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