3 charged in $3M Ponzi scheme

The RCMP has charged three people for their alleged involvement in a $3-million Ponzi scheme.

The RCMP has charged three people for their alleged involvement in a $3-million Ponzi scheme.

John Paul Baron, 49, and Leeanne Houle, 41 — both of Sombra, Ont. — and 51-year-old Terrance McGill, of Brooklin,Ont., each face 31 counts of fraud over $5,000. Police say they bilked 24 people who each invested between $10,000 and $750,000.

Investigators said the 24 clients invested in Forex Baron, a foreign exchange trading company that promised high rates of return on their investments. The company operated out of an office — under a different name — in Sarnia, according to Const. Annette Bernardon of the Windsor RCMP Commercial Crime Section.

The alleged scheme began in 2005 and ended in late 2007 or early 2008, Bernardon said. The clients were initially paid a portion of interest owed to them, but those payments stopped suddenly. The clients were never reimbursed their initial investments, police said.

Police also said the interest payments were made only to convince the clients that their investments were legitimate, and that McGill, Baron and Houle offered "a multitude of excuses" as to the why payments stopped.

Police began their investigation in late 2008 after one of the 24 called them to complain. Baron, Houle and McGill were arrested on Tuesday and released on a promise to appear in court.

Police believe there may be other victims.

"Often, individuals who fall victim to this type of scheme are reluctant to come forward and report their loss," Bernardon said.

McGill, Baron and Houle were arrested on Dec. 15 and released without bail. They are scheduled to appear in court in Sarnia on Jan. 18.