Scams and shams — October 2014

News on the scammers who didn’t get away with it, including a Montreal octogenarian responsible for a massive cigarette trafficking scheme.

SMOKE RING

Contraband cigarette scheme lands octogenarian in jail

An 81-year-old Montreal father of five and grandfather of 15 was sentenced to five years in jail for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in a massive cigarette trafficking ring. Gerald O’Reilly and a group of accomplices purchased millions of cigarettes from native reserves in Quebec and shipped them to Nova Scotia, where they were sold between 2006 and 2008, costing federal and provincial governments $6 million in lost tax revenue. While O’Reilly was in his 70s when he committed the crimes, "that factor did not stop him from doing the crimes and the judge said it should not stop him from having the sentence that is required by the importance of the fraud," said the Crown prosecutor. At press time, O’Reilly was appealing the conviction.

DOSE OF HUMILITY

ID thief mistakenly signs own name

When you’re an identity thief, it can be tough to remember who you’re pretending to be. But you’d think it should be easy enough to remember who not to be: yourself. That wasn’t the case for the UK’s Robert Hardesty, indicted on 14 counts of identity fraud, six counts of deception to obtain dangerous drugs and four counts of forgery. The 28-year-old Mansfield man was caught when he accidentally signed his own name to one of the prescriptions he submitted to a pharmacy using another man’s personal information.

TUB O’ LIES

Spa salesman in hot water

"It’s better to have lived a millionaire’s lifestyle and lost it than to never have lived a millionaire’s lifestyle at all." So says Simon Foster, co-owner of a UK hot tub company who defrauded customers out of £2.7 million ($4.9 million). The 49-year-old Staffordshire businessman was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for baiting customers with the promise of US-made spas, but delivering instead cheap Chinese models, or nothing at all. Hundreds of orders were simply never filled. Foster and his co-owner withdrew more than £1 million from the business, which collapsed in 2010. Foster spent the money on a large home, holidays and cars, including three Porsches — one for business, one for pleasure and one for his wife.

GRIST FOR THE MILL?

Novelist among victims of "evil" fraudster

A UK chartered accountant who cheated clients — including the bestselling author of My Beautiful Laundrette, Hanif Kureishi — out of £2.4 million has been sentenced to eight years in jail. Adam Woricker, 41, defrauded bank accounts, stole from pension funds and promised investors returns of 15% to 25%. Kureishi lost £120,000 in a property deal with Woricker, who also stole £120,000 from his family church between 2002 and 2012 while working as a partner at London-based chartered accountants Fisher Phillips. "You took clients’ money, church money, and a pension which was especially dishonest, and lied to cover your tracks and left a legacy of hurt, embarrassment and humiliation," the judge said.