Scams and shams — April 2016

A Toronto man is facing fraud charges after selling boxes of rice packaged as new iPhones, while a St. Louis accountant is under fire for embezzling a company where she worked for one day.


Kia's Hip-Hop Hamster found a new way to roll

A dancer who performed in TV commercials and on stage with Madonna and Chris Brown while collecting disability benefits has pleaded no-contest to insurance fraud. Leroy Barnes, 29, of Los Angeles, received US$51,000 in workers’ compensation from 2010 to 2011, after being hit by a piece of debris that fell from the ceiling. But he continued to work as a dancer during that time, including as one of the hip-hop hamsters in the popular television ads for Kia Motors. He was sentenced to three months of electronic monitoring, 400 hours of community service and must pay US$24,000 in restitution.

Series of iPhones, with red flower on one of its screens 


iPhone box had rice, but no device

A 21-year-old Toronto man is facing fraud charges for allegedly selling what buyers thought were brand-new iPhones in sealed packages, but ended up containing nothing but rice. Gyimah Andrews Boateng is accused of using the online classifieds site Kijiji to sell the nonexistent iPhones. Victims say they paid cash for what was supposedly the device in an unopened iPhone 6 box, and didn’t discover they had been scammed until they later unwrapped the packaging and found no phone inside.


Nearly a million people taken in by Chinese scam

About 900,000 people have been cheated out of more than 50 billion yuan ($10.6 billion) in connection with Chinese online peer-to-peer lending service Ezubao. According to Chinese state media, 21 Ezubao employees were arrested for running the platform, which was essentially a massive Ponzi scheme. Launched in 2014, the service offered high returns of 9% to 14.6%, and claimed to match investors with potential borrowers, but is said to have made up most of the investment projects and just used money from new investors to pay old debts.


Paycheque led to theft by employee

A St. Louis accountant is accused of embezzling US$15,000 from a company she worked at for just one day. Angela Phan, who was hired through Craigslist for a day of work by Triplematic Dispensers in 2014, used the company’s account and routing numbers on her paycheque to make unauthorized transactions from July to December 2014, police say.


He just said no to fraud

An accountant robbed and beaten at gunpoint by a client who wanted him to cook the books refused to commit the fraud, and instead ratted out the thug who is now serving more than six years in jail. Polish national Sebastian Mysliwiec, 40, of Battersea, England, pleaded guilty to the crime, which revolved around his ventilation manufacturing company. In April 2014, he asked his UK accountant to submit false tax invoices to account for up to £300,000 ($570,000) a month in losses incurred.