Two people are facing more than 80 charges in connection with an alleged $7.8-million Ponzi scheme with victims in Edmonton, B.C., the U.S. and Australia.
The Edmonton Police Service says investigators became aware of the scheme, reportedly being run by a man and a woman under the company name Group Venture Inc., in early 2020.
The scheme, which ran from October 2008 to December 2020, was primarily targeting people in Edmonton and Kelowna, but police say some victims were in Nevada and Australia.
The pair was allegedly offering securities in the form of promissory notes to guarantee investors a set return on their investment, which was often presented as a real estate “flip.”
Curtis Gordon Quigley, 56, and Kathleen Treadgold, 56, turned themselves in to EPS on Wednesday.
Police say they have been jointly charged with 80 counts of fraud over $5,000 and one count of laundering proceeds of crime.
Investigators believe there may be more victims who have yet to come forward.
“Ponzi schemes work on the premise of providing initial financial gain, so most victims believe the investment to be profitable and then invest additional principle,” Det. Linda Herczeg of the EPS Financial Crimes Section said in a news release. “In most Ponzi schemes, some initial investors will receive a full return on their investments, and the fraudster then uses those individuals as references to convince the more skeptical investors to buy in.”
Police are reminding the public that legitimate investment opportunities should always have some sort of verification, such as a real estate listing and land title for a real estate investment.
Land titles are publicly available online.
Prospective investors should also research the company to confirm it’s a legal entity by doing the following:
- Checking with the Better Business Bureau
- Doing a corporate search to see if the business is a legally registered entity
- Doing a Google search to see if the company comes up, or if there is any conflicting information about the company.
- When buying securities, always check with the Alberta Securities Commission (or your respective provincial regulatory body) to determine whether the seller is registered to sell securities.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of this scheme is asked to call police at 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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