An Edmonton woman has been sentenced to five years in jail after being found guilty of fraud.
Carmelita Del Rosario, a married mother of three, operated a Ponzi scheme between February 2009 and May 2012, luring investors with the promise of unusually high returns.
As a former account clerk at the Workers Compensation Board, 42-year-old Del Rosario used her position of employment to set up the scheme, telling her victims they were investing in the WCB.
Police say Del Rosario’s 49 victims — many of whom cashed in their savings, RESPs and RRSPs to invest the funds — lost between $2,000 and $35,000 each in the scheme, thinking they were investing in the WCB.
In total, Del Rosario took in just over $1.8 million, which the court heard was used to finance her gambling addiction.
Of that, about $600,000 has now been returned.
The court heard about one victim who lost her home as a result of the scheme. Others were forced to pick up two or three jobs to recoup their losses.
Many of Del Rosario’s victims belong to Edmonton’s Filipino community and are here on work visas.
"These victims were vulnerable people," said provincial court judge Donna Groves during her sentencing, adding that the scheme required planning and deliberation given its extent and duration.
Groves said Del Rosario was also guilty of breaching a position of trust, an aggravating factor in her sentencing.
"The message must be clear this conduct will not be tolerated," Groves said.
Del Rosario did not address court.