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How did Ontario’s bankrupt ‘Crypto King’ travel the world on Scene+ points?

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Newly released documents suggest Ontario’s so-called ‘Crypto King’ paid for months of world travels with $13,000 worth of Scene+ points while bankrupt – but how?

The details were provided in a report released last week as part of ongoing bankruptcy proceedings against Aiden Pleterski. The 25-year-old Oshawa resident is also facing criminal charges in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme in which investors reported losing north of $40 million.

Despite the ongoing proceedings, Pleterski has continued to boast a life of luxury on social media for months leading up to his May arrest, sharing content of himself wandering the streets of London and top golfing with friends in Miami.

As part of the fraud and money laundering charges laid on him earlier this month, Pleterski must remain at his parents home in Oshawa, putting an end to the jetsetting. 

But how Pleterski, whose bank accounts were seized in 2022, paid for these trips has remained a question for many, including the investors seeking to recoup the more than $40 million.

According to the report, the answer to Pleterski’s lavish lifestyle lies in part in “undisclosed assets” – in this case, largely Scene+ points.

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The Scene+ program, owned by Scotiabank, Cineplex, and Empire, is a Canadian loyalty program that offers users points in exchange for transactions using a Scene+ card, explained Barry Choi, a Toronto-based travel and money expert.

Pleterski’s points were accumulated through transactions made on his Scotiabank Scene+ credit card, but when his accounts were seized, the points remained accessible.

“It’s similar to Aeroplan,” Choi said. “Cancelling your Aeroplan credit card doesn’t mean you lose your points.”

Travel receipts included in the report show Pleterski used the points to pay for approximately $8,000 worth of hotel expenses in London, over $1,600 for flights to Los Angeles, and almost $3,500 for roundtrip economy seats from L.A. to Melbourne as part of travels embarked on late last year.

In emails with the trustee, Pleterski also argued these Scene+ points were “non-transferrable and have no cash value.” Therefore, he said he wasn’t aware he needed to report them.

“Had you asked me to report them to you, I certainly would have,” Pleterski wrote in an email to the bankruptcy trustee in January.

While loyalty programs often don’t categorize points as a currency, Choi argues they operate in the same capacity; “So no matter how you look at it, those points are worth something,” he said.

CTV News asked Scotiabank and Grant Thornton, the bankruptcy trustee responsible for tracing and liquidating Pleterski’s assets, how he maintained access to the Scene+ points, and why they were not included in the initial seizure of his assets.

Scotiabank declined to comment while the matter is ongoing, while the trustee said it could not divulge information beyond the report due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

Ultimately, if the points were accumulated through illegal activity – transactions made with money allegedly owed to investors – “that breaks the [program’s] terms and conditions, so Scotiabank would have the right to seize those points,” Choi said.

Samantha Galea, a Toronto-based insolvency trustee who is not involved with Pleterski’s case, said the points should be considered “property,” and therefore, that Pleterski had a duty to report them.

“He should have known,” Galea said, adding that such omissions can result in an extension of the proceedings.

It’s an approach the trustee appears to be taking – in the report, they recommend Pleterski’s bankruptcy be extended by another two years, rather than the average discharge of nine to 21 months.

That discharge – the final step in the bankruptcy – would also be conditional on Pleterski paying $4.5 million to the trustee for other unaccounted assets, including a watch and cryptocurrency.

At the end of the day, Galea said, “It’s going to be up to the court if he ever gets discharged.” 

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