Calgary woman sues ex-fiancé for $175K claiming investment losses
CALGARY -- A Calgary woman is warning others to watch for red flags when they are considering investing money, even if they are lending money to a romantic partner.
Heidi Hebditch has filed a lawsuit seeking $175,000 in damages against her former financé Trevor Fenn.
Hebditch said she met Fenn, who worked as a realtor and mortgage broker, on an online dating site in May 2018 and the relationship moved quickly.
"He was unlike anybody that I had dated before," said Hebditch. "He appeared to be very business-minded. He had ideas about life and the universe and ways of making money that really impressed me."
The mother of four, who is self-employed, said she believes Fenn started dating her under false pretenses to take advantage of her financially.
Hebditch said Fenn urged her to lend money to individuals he was doing business with or was involved with as a realtor. She said she never handed over cash but made investments through savings accounts and RRSPs, including $50,000 into a tea bar business.
Hebditch said she made loans through a private lending firm to earn interest. She also said she put money toward renovating four homes. When the properties sold, Hebditch said she believed she would be repaid.
"He also painted a picture of a beautiful future. I had some dreams of this one particular house in B.C. I fell in love with and he would play that over and over, this is what's going to get you that house."
Hebditch said she ignored red flags.
"If I had any questions about where the money was, or where the money was going, there was this sense of bullying of making you feel ridiculous for asking the question."
She said the couple ended their relationship in July 2019, just a few months after getting engaged. Hebditch then contacted a lawyer.
"The purpose of filing a lawsuit is for the plaintiff, Ms. Hebditch, to recover her losses that incurred due to the alleged actions of the defendant," said Aryan Sadat, Hebditch's lawyer. "It is an unusual lawsuit based on the facts and based on how the relationship started through an online dating website."
CTV News reached out to Fenn for comment, but he did not respond.
"I can confirm that I am in the process of filing a defence in the civil action," said Kevin Scott, Fenn's lawyer, in an email.
Scott said because the matter is before the courts, his client will have no further comment.
Fenn is no longer authorized to work as a real estate agent. In June 2019, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) temporarily suspended Fenn's real estate and mortgage licences, according to a statement on its website.
"Allegations against Mr. Fenn include engaging in conduct that presents a risk of harm to the public, undermines public confidence in the industry, harms the integrity of the industry, or brings the industry into disrepute," reads the statement.
RECA has received an application from Fenn to withdraw from council. If that application is approved, Fenn would no longer be able to work in real estate.
Calgary police suggest if anyone asks you for money in any relationship, trust your instincts.
"When something doesn't quite seem right, talk to someone else you trust about it," said Sgt. Matt Frederiksen with the Calgary Police Service fraud team.
"If someone you're in a relationship with asks you to give money for an investment or some sort of rate of return I think it's perfectly okay to ask what's the basis of it, where's the paperwork for it, to support it.
"I think sometimes what the fraudsters are relying upon is that you're going to feel compelled to assist them or provide money because you're in that relationship or because you believe that they love you and that you trust them."
Police said if you have been the victim of an alleged fraud to report it.
Hebditch said she wanted to speak out so others can learn from her mistakes.
"If you're a person out there looking to invest or looking to buy a piece of property, it can happen to you. You've gotta be wise. Always, always, always seek independent legal advice, even if you have a lawyer involved."
None of the allegations in the claim have been tested in court.