Gifting circle scam could see $2M in losses across western Canada
Published Monday, May 6, 2019 9:54AM MDT
Last Updated Monday, May 6, 2019 10:01PM MDT
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A southern Alberta man is facing charges connected to a “gifting circle scam” in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton that could result in upward of $2 million in losses.
And police are now looking for anyone else who may be involved.
The scam promises that a “gift” of $5,000 will result in a return of $40,000. Once someone pays into the circle, they are required to recruit two more people to gift money. The losses come when someone pays in but is unable to find others to join.
“Witnesses who have come forward have advised that there are currently over 500 members and 80 gifting circles, which also extend into British Columbia and Saskatchewan,” reads a release from Lethbridge police.
“With these numbers the losses involved would total $2 million.”
Police warn anyone who has received money through a gifting circle may be in possession of the proceeds of crime, which could result in charges.
Also, anyone who promotes the scheme or recruits members could also face prosecution.
Lethbridge police say they have identified a man believed to be one of the main promoters.
Steele Cameron Tolman, 57, of Coaldale, is charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000.
He has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court May 17.
Anyone with information is asked to contact local police or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.