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Local residents arrested for COVID-19 relief program fraud

Fictitious or ineligible businesses allegedly used to apply for energy cost rebates provided during mandatory pandemic closures, Ontario Provincial Police's Serious Fraud Office says

Two Woodbridge residents are facing several fraud-related charges following an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police's Serious Fraud Office for Ontario (SFO) into individuals receiving small business relief funds due to COVID-19 pandemic closures.

In fall 2020, the Ontario government began rolling out relief programs to assist small businesses with operating costs and loss of revenue due to mandatory COVID-19 pandemic closures. After reviewing the applications of two individuals, the Ministry of Finance deemed them suspicious and referred them to the SFO for investigation, according to an SFO news release.

"It is alleged relief funding from the government was applied for through fictitious or ineligible businesses. In these cases, the grant found to be exploited was the COVID-19 Energy Cost Rebate program," police stated.

As a result of the investigation, two individuals have been arrested and charged with offences contrary to the Criminal Code:

Theophilus Ogunkunle, 51, and Omolola Ogunkunle, 36, both of Woodbridge, are charged with fraud over $5,000, utter forged document, and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000, police said.

The accused have been released and are scheduled to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket on May 10.