Ontario clients missing millions after investment vendor's death

Dozens of men and women lost life savings after investing them with an Ottawa area insurance broker who was later found dead.

At least 30 victims; one family lost $900,000

Dozens ofmen and womenlost life savingsafter investing themwith an Ottawa area insurance broker who was later found dead.

Now the Financial Services Commission of Ontario has set up a telephone hotline in an effort to find otherswhose moneymay have gonemissingbeforePhilip Allan Craig'sapparent suicide in January.

Investigators with the commission and with the Ontario provincial police anti-rackets squad say they have been unable to trace at least $5 million that clients invested with Craig, the owner of Canish Insurance Agency, basedin the Stittsville area of Ottawa's west end and later in nearby Arnprior.

Don Sullivan, an Arnpriorlawyer who represents six of the 30 victims who had come forward as of Thursday, said Craig had a close relationship with many of his older clients.

Insurance brokers can't legally sell guaranteed investment certificates, but Sullivan said Craig convinced his clients to buy GICs and other investments from him, promising 10 to 15 per cent interest.

Sullivan said his clients handed over their life savings, and now authorities can't find the paperwork for those alleged investments.

One family lost $900,000

"Elderly couples took out new mortgages on homes," Sullivan said. "One family gave $900,000 over some period of time."

Craig lost his insurance license on January 12, 2006,after one of his clients complained to authorities that she wasn't receiving the interest Craig promised.

Exactly one year laterCraig was found dead, and it hasbeen suggested thathis death was a suicide.Police do notconsiderit suspicious.

Now the hotline has been set up in an effort to find other victims, and Sullivan said it is unknown how many there might be.

"Since these people just blithely left everything to him to look after," he said, "there may well be a considerable number of other people hearing nothing from him but being quite used to that."

Meanwhile, Arnprior OPP Det. Const. Liam Watkins warned investors to be very careful.

"Ultimately, do your homework," he said. "If there's a great deal, sometimes a deal is too good to be true."