EDMONTON — Six people face fraud-related charges after police searched a home and found hundreds of forged and altered documents that included fake government cheques, credit cards and firearms acquisition certificates.
The RCMP say they also seized mortgage documents, corporate picture ID, loyalty cards and driver’s licences, as well as computer hard drives and software set up to manufacture fake $20 bills.
“This is a significant seizure,” Cpl. Julie MacFarlane-Smith of RCMP K-Division’s commercial crime division said Wednesday.
The raid, which included a tactical team, took place Friday on an Edmonton home after police moved on information gleaned from an earlier search on the Paul Band reserve west of the city, said Const. Barb Roy.
“One of the males, on entry, was actually manufacturing a forged firearms acquisition certificate at the time that he was arrested,” she said.
Although police didn’t find any immediate links to organized crime, that aspect will form part of the investigation, she said.
Roy suggested that hundreds of identities had likely been compromised by the forgers, although she wasn’t able to put a value on the documents seized.
“(That is) depending on how far some of the documents have gone with charges and stuff, or how many actual loans we can prove were made from these cards. We can’t really put a number on it yet.”
The seized materials, displayed at a news conference, included fake money orders, social insurance cards, health insurance cards and citizenship cards.
A digital camera with hundreds of portraits stored inside was also taken from the home. Police said the residence held a small photo studio with a backdrop that mimicked those used for Alberta driver’s licences.
Although many of the cards don’t in themselves give the bearers access to financial information, they can be used to back up other cards and help a fraudster establish a false identity, Roy said.
“If you’re going to Canadian Tire, if you’re going to the Money Mart to get a loan, they want your government ID and they want another couple pieces of ID, and they’re going to assume that the other people did the due diligence to give you those cards. It just helps confirm who you are and legitimizes the information.”
MacFarlane-Smith said fake firearms acquisition certificates could help put guns in the hands of people who aren’t supposed to have them.
“That concerns me.”
Police will get in touch with the real owners of the cards and documents and inform them their identities may have been compromised, she said.
Three men and three women are charged with possession of stolen property, forging or falsifying credit card information and possession of forgery equipment.
The accused, all from Edmonton, are to appear in provincial court July 12.