Four companies and two people face criminal and provincial charges after consumers lost more than $1 million in the collapse of an Alberta operation offering time shares at two resorts in and near Canmore.
But the alleged fraud may be much larger, with many more people involved than the 678 complaints received, and "total losses, probably, in the $60 to $80 million range," said Mike Berezowsky, spokesman for Service Alberta.
The charges are based on 59 complaints dating back to 2008 as "the evidence was really strong and also to keep the size manageable should this go to trial."
The case could involve thousands of documents and hundreds of witnesses.
The 59 complaints involved people who had signed time-share contracts at Chateau Canmore Resort and the Banff Gate Mountain Lodge and Spa in Harvie Heights, about four kilometres from Canmore.
The contracts said that the club facilities were held in trust, which should have protected consumers if the business failed.
The business did fail by February 2010, and when the operators defaulted on their loans, lenders foreclosed. At that point, consumers could no longer get access to their units, the government said.
However, the contracts did not protect consumers, leading to the allegation that the companies and individuals facing the charges misled the time-share customers.
Facing 168 counts of fraud over $5,000 and 24 Alberta Fair Trading Act charges of misleading or deceiving consumers are Chateau World Vacations Inc. and director Kim Schram of Edmonton, Properties International Ltd., Royal Crown Resorts Ltd., Royal Club Resorts Inc., and director Andre Muran of Canmore.
The accused are scheduled to appear in Calgary provincial court on Aug. 4.