Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alleged serial grifter turns self into police

'Had he given us notice, we could have had some paperwork done'

Matthew Coutts, National Post Handout

Alleged serial fraudster Shaun Rootenberg's surrender caught officers by surprise yesterday morning, when the man accused of impersonating his brother to bilk a bank out of $1.2-million walked through the front door of 32 Division headquarters.

"He pretty much just walked in, there was no announcement or anything. He just surrendered himself with counsel," said Constable Christopher Devereux, who has been part of an investigation into a series of alleged grifts, worth more than $2-million over the past two years.

"Had he given us some sort of notice, we could have had some of the paperwork done."

The former professional poker player, who tallied one third-place finish on the Canadian tour in 2005, surrendered to police at 8:30 a. m. to face accusations of fraudulently obtaining a substantial line of credit and mortgage from a Canadian financial institution.

In August, Mr. Rootenberg allegedly impersonated his brother in order to obtain a $650,000 mortgage and $550,000 line of credit. Within a week of acquiring the $1.2-million, police say he had already used $550,000 to cover personal expenses, and pay back alleged victims from a previous series of scams.

Mr. Rootenberg faces a number of charges stemming from a 2007 scam, in which he pretended he was an investment broker to convince three business associates in Canada and Florida to invest $850,000 in businesses with which he had no dealings.

Mr. Rootenberg missed a January court appearance into those charges.

In February, police launched a Canada-wide search tracking transactions Mr. Rootenberg made on a credit card obtained in the victim's name, which led them to believe he had travelled to Vancouver.

Const. Devereux said yesterday the search had resulted in several leads, but none that had confirmed his whereabouts.

"I asked him what brought him in now, and he said 'I just want to deal with it,' " he said.

Amit Thakore, Mr. Rootenberg's attorney, said only that his client wished to face the accusations.

Mr. Rootenberg, of Toronto, appeared in court yesterday charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, personation, failure to comply and possession over $5,000, as well as one charge for failing to attend court. He will remain in custody until his next court appearance on March 19.

Police looking for alleged 'money-man' fraudster

Updated: Fri Feb. 13 2009 1:29:53 PM

Toronto police are looking for a "money-man" who is accused of using another person's identity to obtain a mortgage and line of credit worth $1.2 million.

Shaun David Rootenberg, 41, of Toronto, is charged with three criminal counts -- fraud over, personation and a fail to comply -- and police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.

Det.-Const. Chris Devereux described the accused as a "money-man" who often finds investors for new businesses.

Rootenberg is also wanted on bench and surety warrants for separate charges relating to other alleged frauds.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Rootenberg is believed to be in the Toronto area, though he has spent time in Thornhill, and has been known to hang out in the Avenue Road area, typically between Eglinton and Lawrence Avenues, Devereux said. He has also spent time in Vancouver and Montreal during the past year.

He is described as being 5'8", weighs about 165 pounds and has dark grey hair that is receding, police said. He drives a 2006 black BMW X-5 and usually wears glasses.

Rootenberg has two children with an ex-wife, though he is not believed to have contact with them, Devereux said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3207.

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