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by Nandika Ravi

In November, an alleged million-dollar Ponzi scheme shook the Filipino community. Toronto pastor Jason Gaurana, Glenda and Teddy Lee Esteves were accused of fleecing more than 60 victims in the year-long fraud. People from North York, Windsor, Oakville, Burlington and other parts of southern Ontario said that they were pressured by fraudsters to take out large loans and apply for second mortgages with the promise of lucrative returns.

Jason Gaurana (left) , 37, and Glenda Esteves, 45, were two of the three suspects arrested and charged in the Toronto Police Project COSMO investigation

Unfortunately, their money was never used for any investment. In an interview with OMNI Television, Detective Constable Jeffrey Dyrkawec said at least five organizations were involved in the alleged Ponzi scheme, ranging from church groups to makeup companies.

“If you’ve invested in INFY Trading, D-Con Construction, B+E Investments, MAC Glamour or put any money into the Vessels of Hope Church, you should reach out to Project COSMO,” Dyrkawec said.

Original police reports projected a loss of $3.6 million, but officials believe the total amount could be double that. Investigators say that bank accounts seized from the accused were already empty, with money assumed to have been transferred or liquidated in advance. The suspects are facing multiple charges of fraud, uttering forged documents, and money laundering. Toronto Police revealed there are more companies linked to the crime and are currently looking for two persons of interest as the investigation is still on.

Paula Saraza, the reporter on this story felt the need to “voice out the concerns of victims and the trauma they faced.” Here’s her take on this: