Investors say millions are missing and a businessman can’t be found. How an alleged Ponzi scheme played out

A Toronto businessman accused in court filings of being certainly one of masterminds in a multimillion-buck COVID-19-related Ponzi scheme can’t be positioned as indignant creditors, their attorneys and shadowy figures with ties to unlawful playing jewelry try to find him and their cash.

Mark E. Cohen, who up to now labored within the condo automobile business at Toronto’s Pearson World Airport, hasn’t been seen at his North York home on the grounds that August, in step with documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The documents additionally say that he hasn’t been in contact with investors for months.

At The Same Time As a few of the ones traders have grew to become to the courts to challenge Cohen, others have taken issues into their very own arms, CBC News has learned.

in line with a supply familiar with the location, who is now not licensed to talk publicly on the matter, a few people with ties to unlawful playing jewelry in Woodbridge, north of Toronto, have made past due-night visits to the FORTY SIX-12 months-old’s former house, and the homes of his family members, making violent threats and significant to grasp Cohen’s whereabouts to get their a reimbursement. 

Cohen is dealing with three proceedings accusing him of convincing buyers to assist him purchase used automobiles that would be resold at massive profits amid the pandemic-prompted car shortage last 12 months. 

None of the allegations against him or different defendants named within the filings had been confirmed in court docket.

Investors have been promised returns of as a lot as 13 in keeping with cent a month on their investments. Some handed over more than $5 million sooner than Cohen allegedly disappeared with their cash, in line with civil court docket filings. In overall, lawyers for the plaintiffs allege Cohen stole greater than $12 million.

Investors say millions are missing and a businessman can't be found. How an alleged Ponzi scheme played out

COVID-19 has brought about supply chain disruptions and shortages, resulting in prices of new and used cars to surge. (Getty Images)

Locating Cohen has confirmed difficult. 

“I verily believe that Mark Cohen’s whereabouts are right now unknown,” wrote one plaintiff in an affidavit filed in court docket this past November. “He has refused to disclose his area considering August 2021.” 

in keeping with court docket information, Cohen has modified his phone quantity and blocked others from calling him. 

Lawyer Justin Anisman represents 9 plaintiffs who’re suing Cohen. 

“He’s keeping off participation on this lawsuit for no matter what reason. He hasn’t fled the rustic however we’ve not been in a position to find him in individual,” Anisman said in an interview.

As An Alternative, the court licensed lawyers to serve Cohen through electronic mail as opposed to in particular person, which is the usual procedure.

Cohen didn’t respond to an e-mail from CBC News.

He has not filed a press release of defence or shown up to a preliminary court continuing.

Investors suing another businessman

Cohen is not the just one being accused of masterminding the used automobile apartment notion.

Every Other Toronto businessman, Josh Lieff, is being sued by means of another set of investors going after both him and Cohen.

Attorney Robert Karrass is representing those investors.

They allege Lieff acted because the intermediary, convincing them Cohen was faithful, his business reliable and accepting the money on Cohen’s behalf without doing due diligence. 

“up to now, we have now no longer observed any evidence to suggest that this automotive scheme was once in reality actual, but somewhat that someone was amassing this cash and the usage of it to pay off traders,” Karrass mentioned.

To complicate issues, Lieff could also be certainly one of the plaintiffs within the lawsuit filed through Anisman towards Cohen.

In an announcement to CBC News, Lieff’s defence attorney, Gary Caplan, mentioned his consumer denies all allegations made in opposition to him.

“Mr. Lieff will defend any claim he’s in some way a mastermind in a Ponzi scheme,” stated Caplan. He has no longer yet filed an announcement of defence.

Investors say millions are missing and a businessman can't be found. How an alleged Ponzi scheme played out

Closing spring, Josh Lieff and others texted about ramping up their investments in Cohen’s industry, according to affidavits and shows filed in court docket. The plaintiffs allege they had been led to believe that during March their cash had been used to purchase seven Honda Civics and THIRTEEN Toyota Rav 4s. (Submitted by Karrass Legislation)

Cohen and others began contacting buyers to pitch what they stated could be a profitable trade challenge in the fall of 2020, according to a press release of declare filed ultimate month. 

He and others allegedly promised he could be capable of purchase used automobiles from condominium firms throughout Canada. They included Jeeps, Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics and BMW X3s purchased at underneath marketplace value, in line with the court documents.

The alleged plan was once to resell them to dealerships at significantly higher costs to generate “strange returns on investment,” the observation of declare says. 

“My purchasers allege Mr. Cohen took good thing about … the smartly-known fact that the used car marketplace used to be very profitable round this time period to trick my clients into believing this investment was once authentic,” mentioned Anisman.

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They had been promised a per month go back ranging among 5 and 13 consistent with cent and in “typical Ponzi scheme model” burdened to maintain their money and earnings within the trade so it will continue to grow, consistent with the lawsuit. 

in the beginning, buyers would come again the promised prime returns, which inspired them to take a position more, the observation of claim states. 

Word of the undertaking spread amongst Cohen’s buddies within the area, including trade owners, a attorney and a dentist and their members of the family and buddies in Richmond Hill, Thornhill and Vaughan, in step with motion information filed in court docket.

One plaintiff said he realized of the opportunity from talking to Lieff and any other dad while looking at their children play basketball out of doors their faculty, according to his affidavit. He ended up investing a complete of $800,000. 

Court data allege Cohen refunded money to some buyers, but many have been left empty-handed.

Investors say millions are missing and a businessman can't be found. How an alleged Ponzi scheme played out

Investors was an increasing number of frantic trying to observe down Cohen and their money this previous fall, court documents allege. One plaintiff says Lieff equipped a screenshot of textual content messages he’d sent to Cohen demanding to grasp what was going on with an order of used cars from Quebec. (Submitted by way of Karrass Legislation)

Cohen additionally allegedly drew in individuals recognized to be concerned with illegal gambling earrings in Woodbridge, according to the supply.

Belongings frozen. search for hundreds of thousands is on

Meanwhile, the Ontario Superior Court Docket of Justice has temporarily frozen Cohen’s property and legal professionals plan to get further court docket-ordered get entry to to a path of bank records in an effort to trace where the money went. 

Courtroom documents allege significant amounts of money have been transferred to Cohen in my view and to numbered firms he controlled, as well as an investment brokerage.

Investors say millions are missing and a businessman can't be found. How an alleged Ponzi scheme played out

One plaintiff alleges he came upon bank debts proven above and related to Cohen’s car business had been drained across the similar time Cohen stopped responding to investors, in line with a sworn statement filed in court. (Submitted by Karrass Law)

Next month, attorneys for the plaintiffs will ask a court for a so-called Mareva injunction, which if granted will require Cohen to reveal all his belongings in Canada and worldwide.

it could also compel Canadian financial institutions to expose main points of his accounts and transactions.  

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Toronto lawyer Monique Jileson, who is now not related to this situation however is a professional in civil fraud, stated the Mareva injunction is a “powerful legal device” to trace the place and to whom cash has been despatched inside Canada.

If it is sent offshore, alternatively, she stated, “it might probably be an overly tedious, long and costly process” to recover.

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