Two Ontario residents are facing a slew of charges in connection with a string of suspicious incidents occurring through the provincial lottery’s online gambling site.
Ernesto Raising, 38, of Toronto, and Elaiza Mae Paculanan, 20, of North York are facing a combined 21 charges for using the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s iGaming site to commit acts of fraud. The former is on the hook for the following infractions:
- Fraud over $5,000
- Fraud under $5,000
- Use forged document
- Possession of credit card
- Use credit card data
- Personation with intent (identity fraud)
- Possession of an identity document
- Instrument for use in copying credit cards
- Possession of property obtained by crime under $5000
- Identity theft – obtaining or possessing another person’s identity information
The latter faces the same charges as Raising. However, she also earned an additional penalty for failing to comply with an undertaking.
Both individuals have since been released from custody. They are due to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto at a later date.
Extensive investigation preceded arrests
The Ontario Provincial Police, working alongside the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, first caught wind of the situation nearly 19 months ago.
In July 2022, the OPP’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (under AGCO purview) received a tip regarding allegations of identity theft taking place via OLG’s iGaming platform.
The following month, additional allegations of fraud on the site’s Ontario sports betting platform were delivered to the AGCO directly. About a year later, law enforcement had compiled enough evidence to obtain and execute a search warrant at a North York property.
As a result of the search, police acquired multiple electronic devices and fraudulent documents related to non-gaming criminal offences. This according to an OPP news release.
Authorities formally charged the duo on Dec. 21, 2023, before issuing the above charges on Jan. 26, 2024.
Recent cases of online fraud a reminder to report suspicious incidents
Prior to the OLG incident, scammers had been using false advertising for multiple Canadian casinos to lure personal and banking information away from unsuspecting people.
First, a social media scam circulating Instagram and Meta last November used co-opted imagery from Casino Nova Scotia and Casino New Brunswick to get people to sign up for fictitious online wagering applications. At this time, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation website is the only legal online gambling platform for Maritime residents.
The second swindle, which targeted Winnipeg’s Club Regent Casino earlier this year, followed a similar M.O. Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries released a statement warning the public of deceptive advertising impersonating the largest of the Manitoba casinos. Similar to the Maritimes case, a series of Meta ads contained imagery for a supposed Club Regent online gaming app.
For now, MBLL’s PlayNow is the only safe and legal online wagering option available in The Keystone Province.
Players are always encouraged to report such suspicious activities to gambling authorities, operators, and law enforcement when they see them.