Victor and Vincent Onana, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 in connection with two incidents involving four victims.
In addition to the jail time, Judge Dianne Nicholas made a restitution order for $33,000.
The court heard that the Onanas purported to have suitcases full of money embezzled by their father and dyed black to be smuggled out of Cameroon. They used real bills blackened with iodine to show how the currency could be cleaned with expensive chemicals.
They promised to double their victims’ money, but all they got were piles of worthless black paper.
The first victim claimed that he met the Onanas in March 2008 when, as a security guard in a parking lot, he approached their vehicle thinking they were up to no good.
Yet he agreed to give them thousands of dollars for chemicals to clean the black money, which was wrapped in duct tape and tinfoil. When the Onanas didn’t return, he opened the package, found worthless pieces of paper and called police.
Another victim met the Onanas, who posed as prosperous businessmen, at his cellphone booth at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre.
The man, his brother and cousin were given a demonstration and handed over cash in April 2008 after being told they had no choice after learning the secret.
When they went to the police, they recognized one of the Onanas reporting at the station as part of bail conditions on another charge.
Nicholas noted that the victims themselves were “not above reproach.”
“These victims knew full well the claims of the Onana brothers involved serious criminal activity,” she said.
The Onanas’ real history is murky, too. Probation officers could find no one who knew them before they arrived in Canada in 2006. Nothing they said about their lives could be confirmed, including whether they’re really twins, Nicholas said.
One said they fled Cameroon because his sister had been killed and his parents persecuted as church leaders who told their followers to give away their possessions.
The other never mentioned it.