June 2, 2022

Équité Association Underscores the Importance of Project Platinum

In 2020, Équité Association’s Investigative Services team supported the York Regional Police’s (YRP), far-reaching and complex investigation into fraudulent behaviour of several industries linked to organized crime, with a specific focus on the violent tow truck turf wars across the Greater Toronto Area. This collaborative project was known as Project Platinum.  

Équité’s Investigation Coordination and Support Service (ICSS) team remains in complete support of Project Platinum which resulted in 19 arrests and the dismantling of four distinct criminal organizations, with a multitude of charges laid. YRP thanked our Investigative Services team for their critical contributions.

In April 2021, during his sentencing remarks for a defendant who pleaded guilty to charges in relation to Project Platinum, Ontario Court Justice David S. Rose characterized insurance fraud as “a public fraud” against everyone. “<These> crimes are not victimless,” the judge wrote. “When an insurance company is defrauded because a car is deliberately destroyed, that loss is not borne by the insurer. Rather it is passed along to the other insured motorists by way of higher premiums. Everyone pays more.”

In May 2022, the Crown withdrew charges against the six (6) people being tried as a group. While the crown attorney has not officially confirmed the reason for the withdrawal, it appears the decision was in order to protect the identity of an informant. Équité supports the difficult decision made by the crown in these proceedings, understanding that public safety is of the utmost importance.

Regardless of the withdrawn charges, the case contributed tremendous value and has resulted in a number of significant initiatives to reform the towing industry, including the following established by the Provincial government:

  • Passing the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act 2021 (MOMS Act) as a means to further regulate the towing industry and prevent insurance fraud (https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/1000004/moving-ontarians-more-safely-act-2021);
  • Creating the Organized Crime Tow Industry Project (OCTIP) to work alongside local police departments, the industry, and municipal partners to develop a regulatory, oversight model that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators; and
  • Developing a broader strategy to address criminal activity and violence in the towing industry.

This case underscores the fact that insurance crime is not a victimless crime. Harnessing the strengths and abilities of our members, law enforcement and other government agencies from across the country, is one of the most efficient ways we can scale and solve this complex issue. Équité remains unwavering in its commitment to reduce and prevent insurance crime and its impacts on honest, hardworking Canadians.