Nfld. & Labrador

Mount Pearl man accused of swindling $300K from family over vehicle business

Philip Chancey is again facing charges of fraud related to investments in a proposed vehicle business that didn't get off the ground.

New charges are the latest in a long list of complaints against Philip Chancey

A photo ID for Philip Chancey was included in hundreds of pages of legal documents in Nova Scotia.

Philip Chancey is again facing charges of fraud related to investments in a proposed vehicle business that didn't get off the ground.

Chancey — who has been the subject of fraud complaints dating back to at least 2008 — had his case called for a first appearance in provincial court Tuesday. There are charges of fraud over $5,000 related to four victims, two of whom are now dead.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation say Clarenville man Tom Drodge invested $300,000 with Chancey in 2015 for an electric vehicle dealership. Most of the money was his own, but Drodge also borrowed money from his elderly mother, his wife and his sister to put together the cash for the deal.

Drodge died in October 2020. His mother died in 2018.

When contacted by CBC News on Wednesday, Drodge's wife Dulcie said Chancey knew her husband was sick and used that to his advantage.

She declined an interview but said the amount her husband invested was around $300,000 — their entire life savings. She said the deal also involved vehicles seized at the Canada-U.S. border, but no dealership materialized and no cars were delivered.

"I want him to be punished," she said of Chancey.

CBC News reached Chancey by phone on Wednesday.

"I have no comment," he said before telling the reporter that his lawyer will be handling the case. When asked who his lawyer was, he paused for a moment and hung up.

Similar allegations to another case

Chancey was already facing a single count of fraud over $5,000 before the Drodge charges were laid.

It's alleged Chancey defrauded Jerome Groves in 2016, also with promises of opening an electric vehicle dealership. Groves estimates he lost $50,000 throughout the course of his dealings with Chancey and said the financial stress led to a heart attack in late 2016.

Jerome Groves displays all the paperwork and promotional material related to his 2016 investment in a company belonging to Chancey. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Groves told his story to CBC News in 2019. It took more than two years for the police to lay a charge. Chancey is set to go to trial in April at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's.

Another person lodged a complaint with police about a similar business deal with Chancey in 2008, in which more than $100,000 changed hands with a company called Buy the Time EV Rentals. No charges have been laid to date, and Chancey has previously denied wrongdoing in that case.

Big deals, big lawsuits

Chancey has been the subject of several massive lawsuits, with at least three companies seeking to recoup huge sums of money from deals they allege were fraudulent.

American heavy equipment auctioneers Lyons & Sons sued Chancey in 2016 over a $600,000 deal in which Chancey was supposed to supply seized equipment for auction. They were able to get his assets frozen, and he returned the money.

Court records show that two days before the wire transfer, Chancey received $1 million from leasing giant Cox Automotive Canada. That deal also ended up in court, with allegations Chancey had stashed the money in an Icelandic bank account. The case is still before the courts.

Hickman Motors — titans in the Newfoundland auto sector for generations — sued Chancey in 2019, claiming he swindled $400,000 from them on deals for cars seized at the American border. They say no cars were ever delivered. That lawsuit is also still before the courts.

Court records also show Chancey has been taken to small claims court at least a dozen times, for amounts between $375 and $7,752.

Public records show Chancey has incorporated at least eight businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia going back to the 1980s. The latest one on record is Twenty Twenty Capital Corporation, incorporated in August 2020 with a post office box at Churchill Square in St. John's. It's no longer listed in good standing with the provincial government.

In a letter to CBC News in 2019, Chancey said he was just a businessman who has had hard luck.

"I have over the years tried to work and establish various business opportunities. Yes, some failed, I admit this," he wrote in a letter. "Throughout the country, numerous people have tried and failed. I am one of them. The key is to never give up."

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Ryan Cooke is a multiplatform journalist with CBC News in St. John's. Originally from rural Newfoundland, his career has taken him across the Atlantic provinces and home again. He's earned awards for his reporting on social issues such as justice and housing. His work appears on radio, digital and TV.