Scams and shams – October 2016

Hollywood star Christoph Waltz is being investigated for tax fraud in his native Germany, while a Welsh TV extra has been convicted for filing bogus disability benefits claims.


Oscar-winning actor suspected of tax fraud

Berlin prosecutors are investigating Hollywood star Christoph Waltz for allegedly avoiding more than €100,000 ($140,000) in taxes, German newspaper Bild reports. The 59-year-old Austrian-German actor, who is best known for his Academy Award-winning roles in the Quentin Tarantino films Inglourious Basterds (2010) and Django Unchained (2013), is thought to have used offshore bank accounts to reduce his tax bill by a six-figure sum. Waltz has not commented publicly on the allegations, but his lawyer said the case is subject to laws of fiscal secrecy and personal privacy and that Waltz should be presumed innocent.


Sherlock extra jailed for fraud

John Lewis walking with cane

It didn’t require Holmesian deduction to discover that John Lewis, 65, lied to the UK Department for Work and Pensions about being unable to walk or work. That’s because the south Wales senior, who collected nearly £72,000 ($121,000) in disability and pension benefits, regularly appeared as a TV extra on shows such as the BBC dramas Sherlock and Torchwood, and was even seen skipping across the road in a Sky program called The Cafe. Lewis pleaded guilty to the bogus benefit claims and was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison.


Alberta exec fired and sued over $8M scheme

Edmonton police are investigating an alleged $8.2-million fraud against the Alberta Motor Association (AMA), after the nonprofit axed its vice-president of information technology, Jim Gladden, and filed a lawsuit against him. The suit claims Gladden used fake invoices and electronic transfers to US and Chinese bank accounts to defraud the organization out of millions of dollars over three years. In a statement, the AMA said Gladden’s “alleged irregular financial activity was revealed during a review of financial controls.” A judge has frozen Gladden’s properties and assets, including a $1.6-million home in southwest Edmonton, a boat and three luxury cars.


Taking the “real” out of realtor

A former St. John’s, NL, real estate agent has been convicted of fraud and forgery for faking eight home sales between 2009 and 2011. Cecil Burke, 53, repeatedly made up bogus purchase and sale agreements for actual listed properties, forged buyers’ signatures and faked their mortgage approvals — all for the purpose of obtaining personal loans from payday lenders who believed he had sales commissions owing to him. Burke was sentenced to a year in jail, followed by two years of probation, and must pay restitution of more than $65,000. Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Justice William Goodridge strongly denounced Burke’s behaviour. “This was a serious and deliberate breach of trust within an industry that relies heav[ily] on trust and ethical conduct,” he wrote in his decision.