In early 2020, police became aware of a Ponzi scheme reportedly being run by a man and a woman operating primarily out of Kelowna, BC and Edmonton, AB, although some victims were located as far away as Nevada, USA and Australia.
The two suspects were 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.” The scheme was often run under the company name Group Venture Inc., and is believed to have been ongoing between October 2008 and December 2020.
On Aug. 30, 2023, Curtis Gordon Quigley, 56 and Kathleen Treadgold, 56 turned themselves in to EPS. They are jointly charged with 80 counts of fraud over $5,000 and one count of laundering proceeds of crime.
Investigators believe there may be other victims who have yet to come forward, and are encouraging them to contact police.
“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,” says Det. Herczeg. “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.”
Investors are reminded that legitimate investment opportunities should always provide some form of verification. For example, an investment involving the purchase of real estate should provide a real estate listing and land title. Land titles are also publicly available online. Prospective investors should also research the company to confirm that it is a legal entity by:
- 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.
Any others who believe they may have been victimized by this fraud are asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.
The EPS would like to thank the RCMP, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) for their assistance with this investigation.