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Two men and a woman are facing a total of 90 fraud and weapons charges after credit card information stolen from unsuspecting hotel guests in Red Deer was used to supply Edmonton’s drug trade with illegal stun guns.
The investigation began in October 2016 when the Edmonton police cyber crimes investigations unit received a tip from a concerned citizen about someone selling a stun gun online.
The tip led to the arrest of a 32-year-old man and a 34-year-old man in February 2017.
The two men were allegedly purchasing stun guns from online vendors outside of Canada and selling them locally online, and to criminals involved in the drug trade, Edmonton police said Wednesday.
The ensuing investigation revealed that between August, 2016 and February, 2017, an employee at a Red Deer hotel stole identity and credit card information from at least 150 hotel guests.
The employee, a 25-year-old woman, then shared the stolen information with one of the men, who used it to purchase weapons and other prohibited items, police said.
“The way they monetized that stolen information was to purchase the property that they sold, but there were other online scams … some of the online casinos and things like that, or just trafficking the information itself to other individuals who provide them money for it,” said Const. Michael Walkom with the Edmonton cyber crimes unit.
All those affected by the identity theft have been notified of the breach, police said. Investigators did not say which hotel was targeted in the scam, but said the woman was fired before the hotel was aware of her involvement in it.
It was a lengthy investigation due to the complex and online nature of the crimes, said Walkom.
“It took that time just to identify everybody involved and there was a lot more going in the investigation than just one instance of this happening, and then from there, further investigations brought us to lay the additional charges,” said Walkom.
“We do believe there were other prohibited weapons that were being trafficked, but we just didn’t have grounds to lay charges on those.”
Charges against the three accused include weapons trafficking, possession for purpose of weapons trafficking and possession of weapon for dangerous purpose.
Stun guns, most commonly known as Tasers, are hand-held weapons that deliver a jolt of electricity through a pair of wires propelled by compressed air from up to 10.6 metres away.
In Canada, Tasers are prohibited weapons. Only one company can import them into Canada under a special permit, and they can only sell the devices to law enforcement agencies.
Each Taser sale is registered and tracked, much like a handgun.
Read the full story over at CBC News.