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January 12, 2012

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Police begin probe of 'fake landlord' who disappeared

SHANGHAI police are now probing the case of Ryan Fedoruk, the "disappeared" Canadian fake landlord, who is alleged to have cheated 60-plus expat tenants and apartment owners of more than 340,000 yuan in a subleasing scandal.

The police took the case yesterday after five victims and their lawyer handed them statements from 45 victims who say they have been cheated by the man.

Fedoruk, 40, a former part-time English teacher, acted as a second-hand landlord who rented about 30 apartments from their owners in the city and sublet them to over 80 tenants, mostly foreigners, throughout last year, victims said.

The police's economic crime investigation department said it will investigate the whereabouts of the Canadian man after officers finish checking the 45 statements.

Victims have contracts

Other victims who have not yet written statements are being encouraged to report their experiences, too.

Victims accused Fedoruk of contract fraud as they provided evidence showing they had signed contracts, some so informal they were handwritten, to agree on the date for Fedoruk to return deposits, but he never returned the money.

"The suspect may face three to five years behind bars in China and then being deported to his own country after the sentence, if he is confirmed by police to be involved in the 340,000 yuan fraud as victims reported," said local lawyer Wu Dong.

Some victims said they are excited to hear that the police finally are taking action, as they have tried to report to police stations but were told the case couldn't be established due to lack of evidence, among other reasons.

"I'm happy to see the police probing the case and I hope they can catch him soon," said one of the victims, an American-born Chinese who identified himself as Peter.

Another victim, an exchange student who identified himself as "Manuel," said he looked forward to the police investigation's result but doubted whether Fedoruk could return the money even if he was caught.

"As far as I know, Fedoruk was living an extravagant life with the deposit money the tenants have paid him," said Manuel. "He was so fat that he used to take a cab wherever he went, and he spent a lot money on eating or dating girls in Shanghai."

"But I'm glad if justice is to be done to him, after we have spent so much effort in the victim group with the help of the lawyer."

Eva Gao, the lawyer who has spent the past half month helping the victims gather evidence and calling on more to join them, told Shanghai Daily that she did the job not for pay but only to take responsibility as a local citizen.

Previously, Fedoruk was also reported by some Shanghai Daily readers to be scamming people in other cities in China, such as Zhuhai in southern China's Guangdong Province and Harbin in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province.

The Shanghai victims are encouraging victims in those two cities to report to their local police departments.


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