Windermere resident James ‘Jake’ Harvey Cameron, aged 66, was sentenced to 11 years in jail and fined $550,892 for tax evasion. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.8 million.
Mr. Cameron bilked investors through an investment scheme over a five-year period. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, Mr. Cameron operated a fraudulent RRSP scheme from 2002 to 2007. He raised almost $8 million, but paid out a total of only $882,000 back to investors, according to court documents.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that Cameron executed a deceptive investment scheme with subjective knowledge of the prohibited act and consequences,” stated presiding judge, Justice Paul Jeffrey in his written decision.
The judge wrote in his remarks for judgement that, “[Mr.] Cameron’s fraudulent scheme was motivated solely be greed not, for example, by an addiction. It exemplified a high degree of planning and sophistication. He did not end it upon acknowledging the error of his ways, but even after closing down the scheme he continued to perpetuate the deception and lies; he continued to conceal the true nature of the conduct; he continued to retain for himself the proceeds.”
According to the court documents, Mr. Cameron was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1996 and could no longer work. He declared bankruptcy in 1999. He underwent chemotherapy and was told he had only 18 months to live. The judge wrote he suspects that after Mr. Cameron found himself bankrupt and after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis and was unable to recover financially in what he thought were his final days, that “Cameron figured he would end his life in style on other peoples’ money. He believed he would not be around to pay any consequences … But now, having beat the odds on his longevity, he faces the consequences for his actions.”
The investment scheme took money from the pockets of those who could not do without. Eleven of Mr. Cameron’s fraud victims spoke out about the devastating effects the deceit and loss of their money had on them.
“Education funds were lost. Many victims lost their entire retirement savings and continue to work multiple jobs into their sixties an beyond. Retirement plans were replaced with indebtedness and years more of daily work, as their energy levels waned and opportunities dried up,” Judge Jeffrey wrote. “One couple’s dinner, multiple times a week, now consists of foraging the free samples offered at Costco. Most all of the victims spoke of additional health, emotional and relational impacts.”
One victim attempted suicide. Some even have Canada Revenue Agency investigations of their own because Mr. Cameron told them incorrectly that his proposed investments were RRSP-eligible.
“He preyed on the unwitting and the vulnerable for 5 years and over $8 million. Five million of this remains unaccounted for. This scheme appears to have been motivated solely by greed. While the victims continued to suffer the consequences, some even up to this day, Jake Cameron was out golfing, and enjoying leisurely patio dinners with neighbours and lakeside recreations in the vacation resort community of Windermere,” wrote Judge Jeffrey.
In his defence, Mr. Cameron garnered letters of support from family, friends and neighbours in Windermere. To the court, Mr. Cameron stated, “At this time I have to take full responsibility for my actions, my inactions, and extend again, heartfelt apologies to all the investors for the results of my financial mismanagement, poor decisions, bad judgment.”
Mr. Cameron was a regular fixture at a local golf club and bought a house in Windermere in 2010 or 2011. The court documents also indicate Mr. Cameron had another residence on Nelles Crescent in Windermere and yet another on Beach Road.
Sentencing for Mr. Cameron, a former Calgary resident, took place at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary Friday, September 15th.