A Toronto businessman accused of orchestrating a $12 million pandemic-related Ponzi scheme was arrested and charged with fraud by Toronto police on Monday, just hours after investigators discovered his location , CBC News has learned.
The fate of Mark E. Cohen was unknown since last August.
At the time, shadowy figures linked to underground gambling networks, and others, began showing up at his former home in North York demanding to know his whereabouts and to return large sums of money. money they had invested with him, according to a source familiar with the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
CBC News previously reported on those efforts to find Cohen and three lawsuits accusing Cohen of convincing investors to help him buy used cars that would be resold for huge profits amid the vehicle shortage triggered by the pandemic last year.
The 42-year-old faces two charges of fraud over $5,000.
A Toronto police spokesperson confirmed Cohen’s arrest and the charges against him in an email to CBC News.
Cohen appeared in Ontario Court of Justice in downtown Toronto on Tuesday and was released on bail.
None of the criminal charges against Cohen or the allegations made against him in the civil filings have been proven in court.
In an email to CBC News, Cohen vowed to fight the allegations and denies avoiding anyone.
“I have been able to be reached 100% since the summer of last year. These allegations are absurd and ridiculous,” he wrote.
“I deny all allegations made against me and will defend my name and any claims against me.”
Promises of monthly returns of up to 13%: trial
Cohen and others began contacting investors to pitch what they said was a lucrative business venture in the fall of 2020, according to a statement filed in December.
He and others reportedly promised that Cohen would be able to purchase used vehicles from rental companies across Canada. They included Jeeps, Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics and BMW X3s purchased below market value, according to court documents.
The alleged plan was to resell them to dealers at significantly higher prices to generate “extraordinary returns on investment,” the statement said.
At first, investors were reaping the promised high returns, which encouraged them to invest more, the statement said.
The promised returns reached 13% per month. Some investors handed over more than $5 million before Cohen disappeared with their money, civil court documents show. In total, plaintiffs’ attorneys allege Cohen stole more than $12 million.
Nocturnal visits from shadow people
While some of the investors have turned to the courts for redress, CBC News reported in January that Cohen left his former home in North York as the alleged fraud began to unravel and investors could no longer reach him. last summer.
According to a source familiar with the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, some of these people have ties to illegal gambling networks in Woodbridge, Ontario, north of Toronto.
The source said these investors went late at night to Cohen’s former home and the homes of at least two family members, making violent threats and demanding to know Cohen’s whereabouts to get their money back. .
Cohen was arrested Monday afternoon outside a home in Vaughan, Ont., where he had been living for several weeks.