03/26/2014 09:31 EDT | Updated 05/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Ontario Investment Scheme Allegedly Bilked CRA Of $200 Million

TORONTO - Six Ontario residents are facing charges after RCMP say the federal taxman was allegedly defrauded of upwards of $200 million in a bogus investment scheme that stretched across the country.

Police say their investigation began in April, 2012 when they received information about people involved in a possible "tax avoidance scheme."

The Mounties say they have identified 493 people who participated in the alleged scheme between 2009 and 2012, and that individual investments ranged between $1,000 and $300,000.

Sgt. Richard Rollings says that more than 5,000 investors had participated in the alleged fraud since 2004, and that they received at least $200 million in rebates from the Canada Revenue Agency for what were illegitimate claims.

Rollings says investors across Canada were led to believe they could legitimately purchase a company's business losses that could then be used to lower their taxable incomes at five times the investment's value.

However, police allege many of these losses were fraudulent.

They say that resulted in substantial illegitimate income tax refund cheques being issued "off the backs of taxpayers," although refunds were disallowed when some of the investors were audited by the tax agency.

The six people arrested are each charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and one count of commission of an offence for a criminal organization.

Charged are Vincent (Vince) Villanti, 66, of Whitby, Shane Davidson Smith, 46, of Peterborough, David Prentice, 52, of Oakville, Ravendra (Ravi) Chaudhary, 65, of Toronto, Andrew Lloyd, 42, of Pickering and Joe Loschiavo, 49, of Toronto.

Police allege the companies used by the accused to run the scheme included Integrated Business Concepts, Synergy Group 2000, Cason Global Wealth Association and IBCA 2009.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and further arrests and charges are possible.

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