Scams and shams — September 2014

News on the scammers who didn’t get away with it, including the owner of a New Brunswick tour company that tried to scam a group of Girl Guides, an Australian woman who swindled millions of dollars from older men she met on dating websites, and more.


Girl Guides take down crooked travel agent

A Bathurst, NB, tour operator found out the hard way: DO NOT mess with the Girl Guides. A group of Guides bought a Disney World vacation from Jeannine Tours for $10,575 but, in February 2013 — just two weeks before the trip — the company went out of business and did not refund their deposit. The group went public, raised $11,000 to take the trip anyway, and police charged owner Jeanne Doucet with fraud. Turns out it wasn’t an isolated case; in June Doucet pleaded guilty to 13 fraud charges involving 375 complaints totalling $300,000. She returns to court next month for sentencing.


Convicted fraudster helps fellow inmates get tax rebates

Paul Retout, a former UK chartered accountant who served 16 months in jail for cheating his firm out of £60,000 ($110,000), gave two-hour "tax seminars" to other prisoners so they could collect rebates averaging £1,000. According to an article in Inside Time, a monthly publication for prisoners, Retout had "an epiphany" to provide the inmates with tax guidance. "If they got a tax rebate it could help them with accommodation, getting a job and buying food when they are released," he said.


Lonely hearts scam

A 39-year-old mother of four from Sydney, Australia, is up on charges of money laundering and fraud for swindling millions of dollars from older men she met on dating websites such as Lavalife. Sanaa Derbas allegedly conned one man out of $1.9 million and three others out of thousands more with sob stories about a dying relative. Derbas spent the cash on cars, plastic surgery, designer handbags and exotic travel.


Vietnamese businessman, soccer mogul jailed 30 years

Nguyen Duc Kien, one of Vietnam’s wealthiest banking executives, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for fraud, tax evasion, illegal trade and "deliberate wrongdoing causing serious consequences." The 50-year-old cofounder of Asia Commercial Bank and former owner of the Hanoi ACB football club was arrested in 2012 — one year after a Vietnamese newspaper named him businessman of the year. Kien denied the charges, which cost investors a reported $70 million.


Those who can’t do, teach

Janet Bayda, a Vancouver accountant who spent 18 years working for the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy — a nonprofit that trains professionals in the rule of law — has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $1 million from the organization. She will be sentenced later this month.