HALTON - Four Halton residents have been charged in a $16 million investment scam after 150 investors were led to believe they were investing in offshore oil securities that were poised to generate big profits fast.

Police said that funds were filtered back to the investors during early rounds of investments in order to keep the scam going. But after more than five years, investors lost $8 million in the scam.

Detective Constable Lorena Mallinson said police were tipped off when an investor came forward. She said the investigation entailed contacting “many, many investors” that they tracked down through banking documents.

Six companies, all based in the Hamilton-Halton region, were investigated by police, including North American Carrier Services, Hillcorp International Services, Hillcorp Wealth Management, Suncorp Holdings (no relation to Suncor Energy), Exxon Holdings (no relation to Exxon Mobil) and Petro Properties (no relation to Petro Holdings).

Police said the companies were essentially fronts for the ponzi scheme.

“There may have been some legitimate usage that took place, at some point, for these companies, but not during this (investigation’s) time frame,” Mallinson said.

The 18-month investigation resulted in four arrests:

Paul DiNardo, 52, of Burlington; Rita DiNardo, 64, of Milton; Danny DeMelo, 43, of Milton; and Steven John Hill, 52, of Burlington have all been charged with fraud over $5,000, money laundering, and possession of proceeds of crime.

The majority of the investigated companies were run by the above individuals.

mhayes@thespec.com

905-526-3214