Features | From Pivot Magazine

The most outlandish recent shams and scams

A round-up of frauds, including a tax-dodging police chief and gambling nuns

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Bar Rafaeli Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli may soon face charges of tax evasion, money laundering and perjury for, among other things, lying about her primary residence (Getty Images)

$145,000

Amount in flight credits that former WestJet employee Terance Gough covertly issued to more than 100 people who paid him a portion of their value in cash. Gough pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to two years in prison.

“THE BIGGEST CORRUPTION FRAUD IN CANADIAN HISTORY”

How the lawyer for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) recently described an ongoing scandal involving the hospital. In December, MUHC exec Yanai Elbaz received a 39-month sentence for accepting a $10-million bribe from SNC-Lavalin in return for helping the engineering firm win a $1.3-billion contract to build a new super-hospital.

$500

Typical loss sustained by victims of the new “puppy scam,” in which fraudsters post dog-adoption ads online and ask prospective owners to pay only the cost of shipping the dog. When the schemers receive the money, they disappear and no dog arrives.

18

Age of Charles Turner Jr., who faces multiple felony charges in Georgia. Turner allegedly set up an Amazon-like website that allowed him to hack into customers’ bank accounts. He then used those funds to “accidentally” overpay his business taxes by more than $25 million. Instead of issuing a refund, the state caught on to the scheme and arrested him in December.

112 DAYS

Length of time Darryl De Sousa served as Baltimore’s police chief before he was charged with failing to pay three years’ worth of taxes. He pleaded guilty in December and faces up to a year in prison and US$300,000 in potential fines. 

GRANDPARENT SCAM

Nickname of the scheme that a senior in Norfolk County, Ont., fell for late last year. Over the phone, an unknown con artist posed as a lawyer for the victim’s grandson and said he’d need $5,000 to make bail after being involved in a car accident.   

“BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION”

How Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli’s attorney described the case against his client. Refaeli may soon face charges of tax evasion, money laundering and perjury for, among other things, lying about her primary residence: while dating Leonardo DiCaprio in the mid-2000s, she allegedly told Israeli tax officials that she lived in the U.S. and told American authorities that she resided in Israel. 

US$500,000

Amount that two nuns stole from St. James Catholic, an elementary school outside Los Angeles, to fund gambling getaways to Las Vegas. Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Change said the money, which they pilfered over the course of more than a decade, came from a rich uncle. “The rich uncle,” a student’s father said, “was the parents of the St. James students.”