British Columbia

B.C. man guilty of scamming millions out of former Google exec

A Kelowna man who scammed one of the original executives at Google out of $2 million US has been found guilty of fraud and theft.

Dan Keith Andersen had promised Bart Woytowicz $2 million US would be held as a loan

Dan Andersen was found guilty of both fraud and theft. (Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock)

A Kelowna man who scammed one of the original executives at Google out of $2 million US has been found guilty of fraud and theft.

Dan Keith Andersen was convicted on both counts Friday, after a judge found he had "by falsehood and deceit" taken the cash from Bart Woytowicz.

The victim was Google's first director of advertising and sales, serving in that position from 1998 to 2005, "and, as such, was financially successful," according to B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gary Weatherill's understated assessment.

The deal is made

When Woytowicz was first introduced to Andersen, it was July 2010 and Woytowicz was trying to sell his investment in a 3D video company called Parallax, according to court documents. Andersen said he wanted to buy Parallax and start a 3D filmmaking business in Kelowna.

But Andersen didn't have the cash to make the $4.2 million US purchase quite yet, he explained. First, he needed to complete the sale of a number of patents to a Spanish company, Rubix Project Management. He expected to make more than $200 million US once that deal was done — more than enough to buy Woytowicz out of Parallax.

In order to make that happen, Andersen said he needed to assure the folks at Rubix that he was financially secure. That would be easily accomplished if Woytowicz agreed to temporarily deposit $2 million US into an HSBC account controlled by Andersen's company, Danimal Productions.

The money was meant to be frozen — no one would touch it in any way, and it would be repaid with interest by the end of September 2010, according to the judgment. To make sure that happened, Woytowicz insisted that a friend from California be given sole signing authority over the HSBC account.

The cash disappears

The arrangement was supposedly made official on Aug. 6, 2010 at the HSBC in Kelowna's Orchard Park Shopping Centre.

Woytowicz left the bank "with the contented understanding" that everything had been arranged as he expected and that the money could not be removed from the account without his friend's signature, according to the judge.

But no actual changes had been made to the account to make that happen. The HSBC employee who dealt with them testified there had been some confusion about who would have signing authority over the account, and she expected the men to return within a week with a decision on that matter.

Instead, when Woytowicz's money was deposited into the account 10 days later, Andersen immediately transferred it out, sending it directly to the Spanish company, Rubix. It's not clear what happened to the cash after that.

The fraudster defends himself

Andersen represented himself in court and argued he hadn't intended to defraud Woytowicz, but "this was a very large wheel that went off the tracks."

He said he didn't receive any personal gain from the arrangement and only transferred the money to Rubix to help Woytowicz make money.

But the judge didn't buy Andersen's arguments. Weatherill wrote that "most of his submissions were rambling, repetitive and to a large extent, incoherent."

Andersen had "a dishonest intention to transfer Mr. Woytowicz's money" and chose to misappropriate it, despite a clear agreement with the other man, Weatherill wrote, making him guilty of both fraud and theft.

Andersen is yet to be sentenced and is scheduled to make his next appearance in court on Nov. 20.