Features | From Pivot Magazine

The most outlandish shams and scams of 2018

A round-up of recent frauds, including a Jersey Shore star gone bad and a biker gang’s man inside the CRA

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Celine DionA Kitchener, Ont., resident sang a Celine Dion tune to a CRA scam fraudster (Getty Images)

10 years

The prison sentence recently handed to Robert Boston, a North Carolina entrepreneur who stole more than US$25 million from investors, lenders and franchisees of his now-defunct recycling start-up, Zloop. He used the money to bankroll the NASCAR career of his son, Justin (“I spend $5 million a year so he can play race-car driver,” he once wrote), and purchase real estate, luxury cars, a private plane and NFL box seats. Boston, who was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims, has appealed the decision.

Bacchus motorcycle club

The biker gang to which former Canada Revenue Agency employee Christopher Casola belonged. Casola, from Sudbury, Ont., pleaded guilty to illegally accessing the personal information of police officers and rival biker gang members, including Hells Angel and one-time Olympic boxer Phil Boudreault.


Approximate amount that Arizona CPA Robert M. Purinton will pay to cover his own prison stay. The septuagenarian was sentenced to 366 days in prison after pleading guilty to under-reporting his income on his 2009 tax return.

Nigerian prince scam

What former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall recently likened the federal carbon tax to, writing on Twitter, “Usually when someone tells you to send in money but you’ll get more money back in return, it’s a Nigerian prince. #carbonTAX.” Wall later apologized and deleted the tweet. 


Largest jackpot redeemed by the Chung family, the owners of a Burlington, Ont., convenience store, who for years stole winning lottery tickets by telling customers they’d lost. The father, son and daughter used their pilfered winnings, stored in South Korean bank accounts, to purchase homes, cars, jewellery and electronics. The trio received nearly 12 years of cumulative jail time in September (the father has appealed), while the province paid the rightful jackpot winner nearly $15 million, to account for interest.


Income taxes that Jersey Shore star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino paid in 2011, despite making more than US$2.5 million. He was sentenced to eight months in prison in October.


The Céline Dion song that Kitchener, Ont., resident Greg McBride sang to a CRA scam caller (who eventually joined in). McBride became an online hero this year when he posted a video of himself toying with the fraudsters, feeding them bizarre information (for example, “my cat got a call and said there was an audit”) to waste their time. [See Watch out for (and protect yourself from) these three sophisticated phone scams]


The title of a fraud-spotting guide that Luke Johnson, chairman of British café chain Patisserie Holdings, wrote in The Sunday Times—mere weeks before his CFO was arrested in an accounting scandal that left the company owing $1.9 million in back taxes.