Court orders scammer to pay elderly couple $372K

(QMI Agency)

(QMI Agency)

KENNEDY GORDON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:16 PM ET

PETERBOROUGH, ONT. - Shane Smith owes a Peterborough couple $372,236.71 after talking them into an investment in offshore finances and taking $300,000 from them before cutting off communications.

Mr. Justice Drew Gunsolus ruled Jan. 15 in Superior Court of Justice that Smith, 45, who ran a local company called Synergy Group (2000), misrepresented himself and a “guaranteed” investment fund as he took $300,000 from John and Linda Wardrope in 2005.

He promised the couple a 17.52% return on the investment by 2007, but once they learned he had lost his licence to sell securities and was under investigation by the Ontario Securities Commision, they realized their money was gone. He then refused all communications with them.

The Wardropes — John is 77, his wife 65 — sued Smith and Synergy, with the case due to be heard in May 2012. But Smith didn’t show up.

He finally appeared in court last month, where court heard Smith employed the Wardrope’s daughter as a clerk, and through her met the Wardropes and sold them an investment through Cambeton Trading Ltd.

“Mr. Smith acknowledged that he told the plaintiffs that their investment was secure and guaranteed and would give them a 17.52% return on investment,” Gunsolas wrote in his ruling.

Gunsolas determined that Smith also lost money through investments in the scheme, but continued to take money from clients for investments even after the OSC investigation began.

“We find that his conduct was contrary to the public interest and harmful to the integrity of Ontario capital markets,” Gunsolas wrote.

The court accepted the Wardropes’ testimony that Smith failed to tell them he was under investigation by the OSC and that he did not inform them that he was no longer a licensed financial adviser.

”To that end, Mr. Smith must compensate the plaintiffs fully for their losses.” Gunsolas ruled.

“I am not, however, prepared to consider compensating them to the extent that they would receive a 17.52% return on their investment. Rather, a reasonable rate of interest should be applied, in order to put the plaintiffs as nearly as possible in the position they would have been, but for the actions of Shane Smith.”

The couple gave Smith $300,000. Gunsolas determined, through the Courts of Justice Act, that that amount would attract a rate of 4.8% between Nov. 29, 2007 and Dec. 4, 2012 — $39.45 a day for 1,831 days, or $72,236.71

The judgment is subject to an additional interest rate of 3% post-judgment.

kennedy.gordon@sunmedia.ca


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