A Montreal man who has been living in Italy for the last year has been deported back to Montreal so that he can face criminal charges.
Patrick Dinucci was taken into custody Friday afternoon by the Montreal police department, as soon as he landed at Trudeau International Airport.
Police allege he is the ringleader of a fraud network that bilked about 500 seniors out of $890,000.
Most of the victims were from the greater Montreal area.
The alleged fraud took place between 2014 and 2016.
The scam targeted seniors, who received a call from someone pretending to be a relative in legal trouble asking for money.
Cmdr. Juan Vargas, who works with Montreal police's fraud unit, said in one case, an alleged victim lost about a $100,000.
"Sometimes the scammer would call and ask for $2,000, then several more times and ask for more, and the victim would keep sending them money."
Dinucci is expected to be formally charged on Saturday, when he will appear before a judge via videoconference. He is expected to be charged with:
- Fraud of more than $5,000.
- Conspiracy to commit fraud.
- Possessing cash exceeding $5,000, which were obtained as the result of a crime being committed.
Dinucci moved to Italy in 2015
Dinucci, a dual citizen, moved to Italy in 2015. He was arrested by Italian authorities last May, as Montreal police conducted a series of raids to dismantle a grandfather scam network.
The Special Crimes unit made 23 arrests at the time, most of them in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
Montreal police then issued an extradition order to Italian authorities to have Dinucci returned to Canada.
Montreal police say scammers are clever and creative. People should stay vigilant and follow these tips to avoid being scammed:
- Always be on alert, even if the person approaching you is insistent and seems credible.
- If a caller asks you if you recognize them, say no.
- Ask personal questions that only close relatives would know the answer to, such as the name of a relative, the city of their birth or ask them to recount a specific family memory.
- Ask the caller for a phone number where you can reach them while you verify the information first.
- Don't hesitate to hang up.
- Call a family member to validate the information.