RCMP charge Alberta businesswoman with theft, fraud

A group of elderly women living in a Leduc seniors complex are the latest people to be owed money by a businesswoman who has left a trail of bad debts and broken promises across the capital region.

Seniors and small businesses owed thousands

RCMP have laid 16 charges of theft and fraud against Katrina Hagstrom, 26, of Beaumont. 2:09

RCMP in Leduc have laid a total of 16 charges of theft and fraud against Katrina Hagstrom, 26, of Beaumont.

The charges relate to complaints from a group of elderly women in Leduc and other complaints in Calmar.

The women live in a Leduc seniors complex, and are the latest people owed money by Hagstrom, who has left a trail of bad debts and broken promises across the Capital Region.

"We got screwed," said 74-year-old Jean Domstad. "That’s about as clear as you can say it."

The women all live in West Grove apartments, run by the Leduc Foundation, which has provided affordable and subsidized housing since 1963.

In January 2013, West Grove residents were sent a "luncheon invitation" from the foundation’s manager of housing services, inviting them to a free lunch put on by Katrina’s Home Cooked Meals.

The invitation said Katrina’s Home Cooked Meals supplies "a Meals-on-Wheels type of service to tenants in Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Millet and Beaumont."

Seniors offered free lunch

The lunch was "an opportunity to get a delicious hot lunch at no cost," the letter said. "Please come out and enjoy!"

"We were very excited about it," said 79-year-old Helen Stevenson. "We thought it would be fun to have a free meal, and we wouldn’t have to cook it ourselves."

After the lunch on Jan. 25, 11 women signed up for meals service with Katrina Hagstrom, paying amounts ranging from $25 to $240.

Most of the women never received a single meal however. Those who did say the quality of the meal was poor.

Katrina Hagstrom wrote the seniors an IOU on a paper napkin. She never paid up. (CBC)

One of the elderly women no longer remembers the lunch or giving Hagstrom $240 cash.

Together the women are owed about $900.

In an emailed response to Go Public, Nancy Laing, executive director of Leduc Foundation, said the foundation often provides companies such as Katrina's access to its residents.

She said the foundation always includes a disclaimer on its invitations that it is not affiliated with the business it is introducing.

Laing said the foundation later became aware the owner of Katrina’s "was having a number of personal difficulties."

Hagstrom visited the women in April. She returned $25 to one of the women and, on a paper napkin, signed a promissory note for the debt owed the remaining women.

She never returned.

"I’m out $240 and had one meal at home and that was it," said Clara Kuny, 81."I feel that they just took all of us for a ride. She just took us as a bunch of suckers"

"We’re seniors and we trusted her," Stevenson said. "I thought she was going to be really kind to us."

Hit hard times, says businesswoman

Go Public visited Katrina Hagstrom at her rented home in Beaumont, which is listed address for Katrina’s Home Cooked Meals.

She blamed the problem at West Grove Apartments on financial troubles brought on by her ex-boyfriend who collected orders without her knowledge.

She was under extreme emotional stress, Hagstrom said, because of money troubles and a recent cancer diagnosis.

She said she had been paying people back, would return the money to the seniors on May 15 with her apologies.

She invited Go Public to be there to record the event and agreed to an on camera interview in which she said she would explain everything.

Shortly before Go Public arrived however, Hagstrom called to cancel the interview and threatened to call the police if we showed up. She still hasn’t returned the money to the seniors.

Leduc RCMP say they’ve received a complaint about Hagstrom and are investigating.

Broken promises, unpaid debts

Go Public discovered Hagstrom owes money to others and has a history of money problems and broken promises.

In December 2012, Hagstrom organized a pair of New Year’s events at the Beaumont Community Centre. She still owes the Knights of Columbus for the hall rental, and hasn’t paid at least two businesses which supplied food and flowers for the events.

Hagstrom bounced a cheque for over $1,200 to Real Deal Meats in Southwest Edmonton.

"I don’t get that kind of mentality," said Alicia Boisvert, who owns the butcher shop with her husband Darcy.

"We do our very best to be kind to customers, we trusted that cheque would be good."

Boisvert says Hagstrom was apologetic and promised to pay her bill, even promising to deliver a hot meal to Darcy, but then stopped returning calls.

Trish Carter of Beauvilla Flowers in Beaumont, says she has an NSF cheque for about $1,000 from Katrina’s Home Cooked Meals.

She says she made up centrepieces for every table without insisting on a deposit because she wanted to give a young entrepreneur a chance.

"People just have to give you a chance every once in a while in life," she said, "(but) it just makes you get a little more jaded."

History of unpaid bills, court documents reveal

In 2009, Edward Pastuszek.thought Hagstrom was going to help him keep his home.

Pastuszek was having serious money trouble and was at risk of losing the house he had owned for 30 years.

Hagstrom, through Hagstrom and Snell Housing Solutions, would secure mortgages for unqualified buyers, then rent the properties back to the buyer in a rent-to-own contract.

Pastruszek gave Hagstrom $32,000.

Two days later she faxed him to say her investors had backed out and that she would return the money. She never did.

Pastrusek got a court order demanding she repay the money ordering a garnishee of her wages, but he said she disappeared.

"She was gone with my money," Pastruszek said. "I ended up losing my house because of it."

In August 2010, Hagstrom registered Katrina’s Home Cooked Meals as a trade name.

Two months later, Hagstrom filed for bankruptcy, citing debts of more than $30,000, but not the money owing to Pastruszek.

In May 2012, Hagstrom registered another trade name, Little Haggy’s Business Helper.

The registered address for both companies is a split-level house which Hagstrom rents in Beaumont where she also operates a day home.

The Town of Beaumont says Hagstrom has not licenced any of the three businesses.

In September 2012, Hagstrom emerged from bankruptcy, without paying anything to Edward Pastruszek.

Three months later, she began writing NSF cheques in Beaumont and Edmonton.

The seniors in Leduc are holding out hope Katrina Hagstrom will still pay them what she owes, but are speaking out to warn others.

"I can’t believe that I was gullible enough," said Domstad.

"And I’m speaking up because I hope to God that she will not get any other seniors involved with this."