One man is in custody facing multiple fraud charges after West Vancouver police uncovered what they allege was an elaborate scheme to buy expensive vehicles using fraudulent credit cards, then quickly ship them offshore to Africa.
So far, police have linked nine vehicles worth approximately $750,000 as being linked to the fraud investigation.
The vehicles, including trucks and luxury SUVs worth between $70,000 and $100,000 each, were bought on fraudulent credit from dealerships around the Lower Mainland, including one in North Vancouver, police allege.
Officers allege the vehicles were then quickly loaded into containers at one of the port terminals and shipped out of the country.
The investigation began in West Vancouver at the end of March, when an alert bank teller noticed that a man trying to open an account at a West Vancouver Toronto Dominion Canada Trust appeared to match a description of suspected fraud artists that had been circulated internally to bank employees.
At first, to the police officers who were called to arrest the man, “It looked on the surface as a simple fraud file,” said West Vancouver Det. Stephen Gray.
But police grew suspicious when they found the suspect carrying multiple identification cards, credit cards and banks cards in different names – all with his own photograph.
The suspect also denied that he had a car with him, despite carrying a vehicle key fob.
Outside the bank, officers easily located a “fairly high-end SUV” that responded to the key fob, that had just been purchased at a Squamish dealership, under a different name.
Financial documents, cell phones and licence plates found inside the vehicle led to further investigation.
Police also seized a list of names they allege the suspect was using – along with details of those people’s financial records and credit ratings – to buy the expensive vehicles on credit. All of the targets had an excellent credit rating, allowing the suspect to get through checks at the dealerships without much trouble, police allege.
The investigative trail led officers to a container port terminal on the south shore of Vancouver Harbour. There, officers seized three Ford F150 trucks before the containers could be put on a ship.
Working with the Canada Border Services Agency, police tracked three more vehicles believed to be linked to the fraud, en route to the same destination. Those containers were held at a port in Shanghai, China. Three more vehicles were tracked to Cape Town, South Africa and held there.
Doudou Kabilwa Twite, 32, of Ottawa, remains in custody facing nine charges, including six counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of fraud under $5,000 and one charge of identity theft.
Investigators are preparing recommendations of an additional 31 charges.
Gray said the investigation remains active.
“He’s not working alone, it’s pretty obvious,” said Gray. “It’s a very sophisticated file.”
Gray said police have traced the alleged fraud scheme back to December 2016.
Twite has not entered a plea to the charges. The next court date for his case is to be determined this week.