Winnipeg, Montreal police teamed up to take down crime boss
Date: 2008-11-13 13:00:00
Submitted By: Gang Fights
WINNIPEG - The leader of an eastern European organized crime syndicate who was set free Thursday had been nabbed by Winnipeg police last fall as part of a hush-hush inter-provincial ATM fraud investigation, a previously unpublished document has revealed. The Winnipeg Free Press obtained a report that details the police investigation into Gheorge Capra, 47, and three of his cohorts - an investigation sparked by a police task force in Montreal. Capra, who's under a deportation order, was released from custody Thursday pending a decision by the immigration minister that could declare him a danger to the public. Email to a friendEmail to a friendPrinter friendlyPrinter friendly Font: * * * * * * * * AddThis Social Bookmark Button That would remove the last obstacle faced by the Canada Border Services Agency to remove him from the country. Since smuggling himself into Canada aboard a ship in 1991 and being given permanent resident status a year later, Capra has had 105 criminal convictions, mostly on fraud-related charges. He was recently paroled from a Manitoba prison after serving a third of a sentence for fraud over $5,000. Capra was arrested and jailed on Oct. 20, 2007, after Winnipeg investigators were approached by Manitoba RCMP for their help in what was dubbed Project Decati, an ATM and debit-card fraud investigation. Documents tell how Project Decati's focus was on a criminal organization that specialized in the installation of "skimming" devices on ATMs and other point-of-sale machines to steal unsuspecting people's bank card data and PIN numbers. Police said the stolen data was transferred to forged cards, allowing illegal withdrawals of cash at ATMs across the country. Winnipeg police had been alerted that four prime suspects - including Capra - were expected to arrive in that city. With the help of RCMP investigators, Capra was kept under constant watch. Police gathered evidence that Capra and the three other suspects defrauded Royal Bank ATMs throughout the city using forged cards and data stolen months earlier. "The group was highly organized," Winnipeg police Detective Phil Trudeau wrote in a February synopsis of their findings to Canada Border Services. Capra is described as always outside the view of bank surveillance, leaving the "grunt work" to lower-ranking members, Trudeau said. When police moved in to arrest the group, they seized $12,000 in cash, 227 forged debit cards and a computer containing hundreds of compromised debit card accounts. The cards were also used at ATMs in communities throughout Ontario and parts of Quebec. The group was meticulous in keeping records and maintaining a database of card records. "It would take an incredible amount of work to maintain such items," Trudeau said. The only female co-accused was also implicated in an investigation where police allege card data was stolen from movie theatres in large cities stretching west from Vancouver to Winnipeg in 2005. The day of that year's Harry Potter movie opening was the set target as it "ensured heavy customer debit card traffic," Trudeau said. In January, Capra pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 and was sentenced to an effective 30-month sentence in federal prison. His release from custody was contested by a border services lawyer Wednesday who said Capra would likely disappear into the criminal underworld and not show up for his deportation hearing. He's been granted leave to go live at a Montreal halfway house to serve out his parole.