Ontario’s ‘Crypto King’ arrested and charged with fraud, laundering

By Lucas Casaletto

Aiden Pleterski, the self-proclaimed Ontario Crypto King who went bankrupt and endured an alleged kidnapping, has been arrested and charged following a 16-month investigation.

Pleterski’s arrest was confirmed before a Thursday press conference titled Project Swan. Colin Murphy, a 27-year-old from Oshawa and an alleged accomplice of Pleterski, was also charged with fraud and released on bail.

In July 2022, police in Durham began receiving complaints about investment fraud involving a man from the Whitby area, later confirmed to be Pleterski. Over 16 months, investigators from the Financial Crimes Unit authored over 40 court orders and gathered evidence.

A Durham Regional Police spokesperson said it’s believed that approximately $40 million was fraudulently obtained through the Crypto King from over 300 victims across Ontario. According to court documents obtained by CityNews, Pleterski raised roughly $41.5 million from investors but invested only 1.6 per cent of that money.

It’s believed that the Crypto King used investor funds to purchase luxury vehicles, including McLarens, Lamborghinis, Audis, and BMWs.

As previously reported by the CBC, victims also provided money to Murphy under similar circumstances, expecting the Oshawa resident to invest it on their behalf and return them large profits. 

These victims were defrauded and unable to recover their funds. In January 2023, an Ontario Superior Court judge found Murphy in contempt of court after he refused to surrender his iPhone and for deleting data.

Pleterski was charged with fraud over $5,000 and laundering proceeds of crime. He appeared in court on Tuesday and was released on bail. His next court appearance is slated for June.

Investigators note that Pleterski may have been attempting to solicit new investors as recently as February 2024.

Details of the ‘Crypto King’s’ fall from grace

Pleterski was declared bankrupt by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in August 2022. Court documents show that only $2.2 million, including several luxury vehicles under his name, was seized, despite the Crypto King owing millions to over 100 investors.

A few months later, in October 2022, Murphy began operating his own investment scheme with Pleterski’s assistance.

On Dec. 5, 2022, Pleterski was abducted in downtown Toronto, leading to a missing persons report. Pleterski was allegedly lured into a vehicle by a group of suspects, and once inside the vehicle, two suspects pointed firearms at him.

Aiden Pleterski
Aiden Pleterski, the self-proclaimed “Crypto King,” is seen here in this photo on Instagram.

Pleterski was held captive for three days and taken to various locations where he was repeatedly assaulted. The suspects later released him in downtown Toronto and demanded a large amount of Canadian currency. Police said the victim’s life and family were threatened.

Investigators arrested four people on July 17, 2023. Police identified those suspects as 24-year-old Deren Akyeam-Pong of Toronto, 24-year-old Rakeem Henry of London, Ont., 39-year-old Akil Heywood of Toronto, and 37-year-old Tyler Fast of Toronto. On July 21, 2023, a fifth suspect, identified as 22-year-old Alfredo Paladino of Hamilton, was charged.

According to the New York Times, Heywood had filed a claim for losing $740,000 that he had invested with Pleterski towards cryptocurrency and foreign exchange positions. It’s unclear if the other men involved in the alleged kidnapping invested with the Crypto King.

In September 2023, a year after filing for bankruptcy, reports surfaced that Pleterski was travelling the world. A few months later, the CBC reported that Canadian NBA superstar and Toronto native Shai Gilgeous-Alexander won a lawsuit to undo his $8.4-million purchase of a Burlington mansion where Pleterski used to live.

The lawsuit claimed that sellers failed to disclose to the buyer that an alleged series of threatening visits had been occurring at the mansion by individuals looking for the Crypto King and threatening him with violence.

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