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B.C. launches $600K forfeiture case against alleged Burnaby fraudster

In just one of four police investigations into Hao Luo's alleged Lower Mainland 'fencing' operations, officers seized dozens of bags of suspected stolen goods and more than $122,000 in store gift cards from Home Depot, Best Buy, Peoples Jewellers, Lululemon and more, according to a recent civil forfeiture claim.

The B.C. government is going after a Burnaby man for $600,000 in cash, alleging the funds are the proceeds of trafficking in stolen goods, fraud, theft and income tax evasion.

Hao Luo, also known as Ken Luo, was the subject of four police investigations between 2017 and 2020 for alleged scams targeting businesses in Burnaby, Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Delta, according to a civil claim filed by the province’s director of civil forfeiture last month.

The first investigation, by the Vancouver Police Department, allegedly revealed Luo bought stolen Home Depot merchandise from known shoplifters and then went to various Lower Mainland stores to return it.

Because he didn’t have the receipts, he returned the items for store credit, which he used to buy other items, thereby obtaining receipts.

He then returned the merchandise for cash, according to the civil forfeiture claim.

The VPD discovered the process through a sting operation that saw an undercover officer pose as a shoplifter and offer “stolen” goods for sale to Luo, according to the claim.

Luo allegedly instructed the undercover officer to go only to Home Depot and get any items up to $200 except tools.

The undercover officer told Luo he could steal more expensive items, but Luo said it was easier to return lower priced goods, according to the claim.

VPD conducted surveillance on Luo and eventually executed search warrants on his vehicle and home.

There they found credit cards, debit cards and a staggering number of gift cards: $70,000 from Home Depot, $25,000 from Best Buy, $13,000 from Apple, $7,500 from Peoples Jewellers, $3,500 from Staples, $2,700 from Walmart and other gift cards in amounts between $5 and $2,500 from Lululemon, the Keg, Starbucks and other stores.

Officers also found dozens of bags of new clothing with receipts and tags attached from Mark’s, Lululemon, Sportchek and Arc’teryx, and dozens of kitchen faucets, garburators, smoke alarms, electronic door locks and other home improvement items.

Three more investigations into Luo’s alleged offences followed, ultimately ending in the seizure of more merchandise and two vehicles.

The province’s director of civil forfeiture has already filed three claims against Luo, saying the seized items should be forfeited to the province because they are the proceeds of crime.

In its latest action, the civil forfeiture office is going after $600,000 in four Richmond Canadian Western Bank accounts held by Luo.

The funds are the proceeds of crime, according to the claim, and Luo didn’t have the “sufficient legitimate income” to acquire the funds.

The allegations in the claim have not been proven in court.

Luo has not yet filed a response to the claim.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor