RCMP have laid nine fraud charges against 23-yearold alleged foreign exchange swindler Adam Keller and issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.
The warrant is not likely to result in Keller's immediate arrest, as he is currently residing in the United States and facing charges on unrelated matters in Colorado, but it gives his alleged victims hope. "I'm relieved that there will - hopefully - be some consequence after all the trauma we have endured," West Vancouver resident Donna Hawrelko said in an interview Friday.
Hawrelko alerted me to this matter in August 2010. She alleged that Keller portrayed himself as a successful foreign exchange currency trader. At the time, he rented a large house on Sentinel Drive in West Vancouver for $16,000 per month, and conducted his business through his private Alberta company, Great White Capital Corp.
According to Hawrelko, he represented that:
. Great White would invest her money in foreign exchange contracts through traders in Chicago, and generate returns of nine to 10 per cent monthly.
. Risk would be limited. He guaranteed in writing that no more than one per cent of her capital would be exposed to the market at any time. Also, Great White would guarantee her capital and he would personally "protect" her from any losses.
Hawrelko said Keller did not provide regular account statements. Instead he periodically showed her statements he kept on his laptop, and once gave her a printed statement on Great White stationery. They showed her investment was growing in leaps and bounds.
She said that, in ensuing months, she cashed in her RRSP, obtained a mortgage on her home, took out a personal line of credit and gave all the proceeds to Keller to invest on her behalf. She also recommended Keller to friends and family. Collectively, they invested nearly $530,000.
Hawrelko said that, in March 2010, she asked Keller to redeem $16,000 of her investments so she could pay some bills. Keller promptly provided the funds. Then she asked for more money, but he failed to deliver and then disappeared. Hawrelko complained to the B.C. Securities Commission. In March 2011, BCSC enforcement staff issued a notice of hearing alleging that Keller had defrauded Hawrelko and three others of just under $530,000.
In April 2011, the commission held a hearing into the matter. Keller did not appear. Two months later, the hearing panel released its verdict.
The panel said Keller had claimed he was an expert forex trader who had made millions while attending the University of Southern California in 2001. In fact, the panel said, he never engaged in foreign exchange trading and he never attended USC. (He would have been 12 or 13 years old at the time.)
The panel also said Keller told investors he would use their money to make foreign exchange trades, and he and Great White would protect them from loss. In fact, the panel said, he did not invest any of their money, rather he used it for personal purposes.
The panel said he lied to investors about how their investments were performing, and to induce investors to invest more money, he gave them false account statements. It noted that none of the investors received any return on their investments, and there is no evidence they will recover any of their money.
The panel concluded that Keller had perpetrated a fraud. He was banned from the B.C. securities market for life and ordered to pay $1.6 million in fines and return the money he took from investors.
This is typically where these cases end. The perpetrator is long gone, so the market ban means little or nothing, and the fine is never paid. The finding is one of civil fraud, so the perpetrator is not burdened with a criminal record.
But in this case, the RCMP Commercial Crime Section conducted a broader investigation, found more victims, and convinced the Crown to lay nine charges of fraud under the Criminal Code. The victims are said to reside in Vancouver, West Vancouver, Calgary and Stony Plain, Alta.
The charges were laid on Aug. 30, but not publicly released. RCMP also obtained a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest, but by this time, Keller was in Denver, in more hot water.
According to sources there, Keller rented a $10,500-a-month penthouse previously occupied by NBA star Carmelo Anthony and featured on the reality television series, Cribs.
In May 2011, he was arrested by Denver police for an alleged theft. He was jailed briefly, charged with obstruction and then released on $10,000 bail. The case is pending.
Meanwhile, the property manager for the penthouse alleged that Keller gave him a $10,500 rent cheque on a non-existent bank account. Denver police subsequently charged Keller with theft of rental property. That charge is also pending.
For such a young guy, Keller has certainly led an eventful life. If he is tried and convicted on the B.C. charges, I hope the court does not give too much consideration to his age. As framed, his alleged crimes involve a level of forethought, complexity and treachery that belies his relative youth.
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