Toronto Police just performed a massive bust, recovering over $500,000 in stolen goods from one of the most elaborate cargo-theft schemes ever. In a plan that sounds straight out of a Shonda Rimes show, the 32-year-old suspect managed to pull off not only cargo theft, but also identity theft, robbery, fraud, and forgery.
Police began investigating the case, which was so big it got it's own mission name of Project Groundhog, back in August. About two to three months later on October 24th, they found and arrested Jerahmeil Selvyn Wilson for the scheme.
According to Toronto Police, the suspect managed to take over commercial shipping accounts online and used that to redirect expensive packages to himself, but using third-party addresses, people and also fake identities to accept them. Usually, the stolen packages had phones or other electronics, gold and jewellery, or pre-paid credit cards in them.
He also stole people's identities and used them to order credit cards. Once the cards were mailed out to the people whose identities he stole, he would again hack and reroute the shipping account to send the cards to himself.
When police busted his Toronto condo and office they found a $36,000 watch, 32 forged identities, 28 stolen credit cards, at least $3000 in cash and pre-paid cards, and a number of stolen electronics and phones. They also found in their investigation that he and his associates, who haven't been named, used at least 28 different aliases.
Now, Wilson faces 10 different charges, as well as multiple counts of certain charges. His charges include theft over $5000, possession of forged documents, and possession of stolen goods.
While this may be one of the most elaborate cargo-theft crimes in Canada, it's most definitely not the first. It turns out that cargo theft is a major issue in Canada and costs billions of dollars.
Stealing specific packages at a time is a smaller scale of cargo theft. In most cases, it usually involves stealing an entire truck or trailer of goods and then repackaging or reselling it for a profit quickly. Because the stolen goods are sold so fast, they are nearly impossible to track and people rarely get caught.
This problem dates back several years, but in 2012, reported statistics showed some terrifying numbers. In the GTA alone, $500,000 worth of goods were being stolen daily. For the whole year in all of Canada, the cost of cargo theft, including police resources, the stolen items, and the insurance payouts, was closer to $5 billion.
While that was 6 years ago, it has only been getting worse. The Ontario Trucking Association reported that cargo theft was on the rise and that as of July 2018, there had already been over $27 million in stolen goods reported in Ontario. This number halfway through the year puts them on track to beat last year's total, which was $46.2 million.
Despite cargo theft being a low-risk crime in Canada, meaning the chances of getting caught are slim, the victim impact is huge. Not only does it mean you the consumer aren't getting the goods you ordered, but it also affects the trucking companies who have to claim the lost goods and trucks, as well as the insurance companies who have to provide compensation.
In the case of the Toronto man who was arrested recently, his crimes also directly affected all the people whose identities he stole. He also victimized people by intercepting and stealing individual packages before they even had a chance to make it their intended recipients.
Jerahmeil Selvyn Wilson is expected to appear in court at Toronto's Old City Hall for the first time on these charges on November 14th at 11 AM. Police are now also asking for the public's help in identifying storage units where he may be storing more stolen goods and tracking down the people whose IDs were stolen.