Two Toronto men have been nabbed in a bizarre scam that promised a big return on a small investment.
A Clarington man in his 50s was nearly victimized after he posted an online ad for the sale of his landscaping maintenance business in March, Durham Regional Police Det. Jeff Caplan said yesterday.
The would-be victim got into talks with a man who said he was interested in buying the business to help family members coming to Canada from Africa.
On Wednesday, two men went to the victim's home where they told him they had smuggled $3 million out of North Africa by turning it into a cardboard-like substance, Caplan said.
They told him if he handed over $125,000, they could "clean" $250,000 to buy his business, Caplan said.
The bills were covered with Elmer's glue and then iodine.
"It appears to be like a cardboard substance. In order to turn it back, all you need is warm water and vitamin-C ... and the iodine will disappear and it will turn back into a bill," Caplan said.
The men demonstrated the money "cleaning" for the victim and made their offer, Caplan said.
"The light went on in (the victim's) head when he realized that it didn't sound right. He happened to have an acquaintance who was a police officer and called them for advice," Caplan said.
The cops set up a sting when the men went to Clarington to allegedly pick up the money from the victim.
The pair was allegedly found with six bundles of $20 bill-sized cardboard wrapped in cellophane, a large jug of iodine, goggles and other protective equipment.
Jethro Mutero, 31, a landed immigrant from Zimbabwe who was known to police, and Sampson Jalloh, 38, a refugee claimant from Liberia, were both charged with attempted fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and possession of counterfeit money.
The "black money scam" is "just another twist to the West African advance fee cheque frauds that happen everyday," Caplan said. "It offers a large return on a small investment, so it targets the greedy, the trusting and the naive."