Identity theft: Gatineau police arrest Montreal-area couple in string of frauds

Gatineau police say a man and a woman have been arrested in connection with a string of identity thefts in Ontario and Quebec that cost nearly 30 people hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Police officers from Gatineau, Laval, Montreal, MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais and Quebec provincial police took part in two searches in Laval and Montreal at around 5 a.m. Wednesday following months of investigation. A 31-year-old Laval man and a 29-year-old Montreal woman were arrested.

The incidents under investigation were first reported Aug. 16, 2022 and several similar incidents were reported up until Jan. 18, 2023.

Gatineau police first asked the public for help identifying suspects in two thefts from the Branchaud Brière Complex in Gatineau and the Paul Pelletier Aquatic Center in Aylmer in August. Police say 13 other thefts in Gatineau were linked to the same modus operandi and investigations later connected the investigation to almost 20 other files in Ontario and Quebec.

According to police, the woman would park outside fitness centres as the man went in to steal wallets, cellphones, jewellery and car keys from locker rooms. Once the items were taken, the suspects would call banking institutions and fool the people on the line into changing the PINs of bank and credit cards. Then, the couple would withdraw money from ATMs or make purchases.

The 29-year-old woman was released on a promise to appear in court with conditions. Police will be recommending charges of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. Since she has yet to be formally charged, police did not identify her in a news release Wednesday.

The 31-year-old man, identified as Ahmad Mroue, was held in custody pending a court appearance. He is charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, identity fraud, drug possession for the purpose of trafficking and failure to comply with an ordinance. 

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