Following an investigation that took almost five years, a Sylvan Lake man is accused of a $2.6 million fraud.
Dane Michael Skinner is charged with two counts of uttering threats, laundering proceeds of crime and fraud.
Police said the 53-year-old man was claiming to sell a product that made fracking operations at oilwells cheaper and more environmentally friendly, for example, cutting the number of trucks needed on a fracking site to one from five.
The product attracted numerous investors and led to lucrative financial gains.
Blackfalds RCMP said many people were enticed to invest in his company, and investors lost more than $2.6 million. Police say at least 16 people sunk money into the scheme, although the product had never been tested on actual wells.
According to police, the offences occurred between Dec. 5, 2007 and Feb. 28, 2013 in Lacombe. The allegations involve two numbered companies (1518869 Alberta Ltd. and 1367158 Alberta Ltd.) and N.E.X.T. Legacy Technologies Ltd. Numbered company 1367158 Alberta Ltd. was founded on Dec. 5, 2007.
“Generally investment frauds are very complex,” said Const. Bill Lewadniuk, adding it involves significant knowledge in how corporations and banking systems work.
Blackfalds RCMP started their investigation in September 2013. Four months ago, Lewadniuk, with the Red Deer RCMP Financial Crimes Unit joined the investigation.
“The investigation did take quite a while,” said Lewadniuk, adding he was brought in to review the file and determine the direction of the investigation.
“Because I have additional training, some of the stuff made sense to me in a different way. So we were able to compile the information from the previous investigations together and bring it to the special Crown from the Economic Crimes Unit out of Calgary for the prosecution of this case.”
Lewadniuk described the fraud as very elaborate.
“We hope this successful outcome brings a sense of closure to the multitude of victims affected by this crime.”
He has been released from custody and will appear in Red Deer provincial court on Aug. 8.
With files from Canadian Press