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Alberta man convicted in elaborate sports investment fraud schemes

Alberta man convicted in elaborate sports investment fraud schemes

An Alberta man has been convicted of fraud and forgery in a collection of elaborate sports activities funding schemes that value his victims greater than $1.7 million. 

Nickolas Ellis was discovered responsible on Jan. 17 in Edmonton Court docket of King’s Bench on eight counts of fraud over $5,000, three counts of use or trafficking in a cast doc and three counts of id fraud.

The case particulars how Ellis, 52, engineered a collection of elaborate frauds, usually utilizing his purported connections to present and retired NHL gamers to each entice and placate buyers. 

Ellis used faux emails, fabricated conferences, cast paperwork and “fictional characters” to lend legitimacy to his tasks — defrauding eight pals, coworkers and neighbours. 

Ellis’s crimes passed off between February 2016 and March 2019.

The funding alternatives introduced by Mr. Ellis have been a home of playing cards constructed on a basis of deception.– Justice John Henderson

“The funding alternatives introduced by Mr. Ellis have been a home of playing cards constructed on a basis of deception,” wrote Justice John Henderson.

“Not one of the funding alternatives have been actual and all have been designed to generate substantial funds for Mr. Ellis on the expense of the buyers.”

The choose decided Ellis’s tasks have been a fiction and the cash gained from the schemes was by no means invested in something apart from his private funds. 

Ellis used a collection of ruses on his buyers, together with impersonating late New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy — and fabricating correspondence from legal professionals the court docket decided didn’t exist. 

Ellis was initially charged on a 17-count amended indictment. He pleaded not responsible final October and has denied knowingly taking part in any fraudulent exercise. 

Derek Anderson, Ellis’s lawyer, mentioned he was reviewing the choice with an “eye in the direction of attraction” however mentioned his shopper declined additional remark. Ellis is due again in court docket for arraignment on Feb. 3.

A few of his victims met Ellis after he moved right into a neighbourhood close to a golf course south of Sherwood Park round 2015. Others knew him for a comparatively brief time, in some instances solely months, earlier than investing with Ellis. 

The choose described Ellis as an clever, well-educated man with a historical past in mergers and acquisitions who was “extremely regarded” by these he labored with.

The biggest of Ellis’s schemes was referred to as the Dynasty Mission. Three buyers collectively misplaced near $1.2 million.

The challenge provided buyers a possibility to accumulate an curiosity within the challenge, one Ellis claimed concerned NHL personalities, together with Bossy. 

In line with Ellis’s testimony, the challenge started with a suggestion, from a “good friend of a good friend,” to satisfy a software program developer named Dean who was searching for seed cash to develop app expertise 

Ellis mentioned he was informed the app would talk with athletes earlier than and after video games, and relay data to subscribers by way of numerous stay chats and streams. 

‘Fictional individuals’

The pitch included a partnership with sports activities leagues and buyers have been promised thousands and thousands or billions of {dollars} in returns on the closing of the sale to Microsoft.

Ellis testified that he by no means realized Dean’s final title – and by no means met him once more – however that he was quickly contacted by Tom and Frank Tiebert, legal professionals for Dynasty. 

Emails claiming to be from the Tieberts inspired buyers to funnel extra money into the challenge. 

The choose nonetheless decided the Tieberts have been “fictional individuals” Ellis used as props.

Ellis arrange a faux e-mail account in Bossy’s title so as to add legitimacy to the scheme.

He additionally despatched an e-mail with a cast authorized letter connected purporting to be from an Edmonton legislation agency, informing buyers that the agency held thousands and thousands in belief for the challenge. 

However the challenge by no means existed. The cash was not held in belief. And Ellis’s story of the assembly with the developer had “no ring of reality,” the choose discovered. 

The Dynasty Mission was a sham. It was not actual. It existed solely within the thoughts of Mr. Ellis.– Justice John Henderson

“I conclude that the Dynasty Mission was a sham. It was not actual,” Henderson wrote.

“It existed solely within the thoughts of Mr. Ellis.” 

Whereas Ellis was defrauding the Dynasty buyers, he was touting one other scheme. 

Dubbed the Gretzky Mission, it promised a “large alternative” with distributor Higher Deck, a relationship that didn’t exist.

The licensing association can be for 9 new collections of limited-issue Gretzky merchandise. 

Ellis took an extra $38,000 from one of many Dynasty buyers, cash Ellis would deposit instantly into his private accounts. 

In March 2019, the Dynasty buyers reported Ellis to police and the fraud investigation started, court docket heard.

False connections 

The second largest funding scheme, generally known as the Reebok Jersey Program, defrauded six buyers of greater than $319,000.

The challenge aimed to make the most of the NHL’s swap from Reebok-branded jerseys to Adidas ones through the 2017 season. 

Ellis informed buyers that due to his contacts with the NHL and U.S. based mostly distributors, he had a possibility to buy a listing of greater than 1,000 jerseys.

The plan was to get them signed and repackaged and offered for revenue. 

Ellis testified the challenge started when he was approached by a person named Jack that he knew by way of the “gathering world.”

Ellis informed buyers that the majority of the jerseys had been pre-sold, main them to imagine the chance of the challenge was minimal. Once more, he claimed to be in enterprise with Higher Deck, which he was not.

He cast emails from an Edmonton framing firm that reported that a whole bunch of jerseys have been being packaged on the market, court docket heard.  One other e-mail reported that signed pictures had been collected for the challenge at Connor McDavid’s twenty first celebration in Las Vegas.

As with the Dynasty challenge, Ellis offered the identical curiosity within the challenge to totally different units of buyers.

“The Reebok Jersey Program was by no means actual, however as a substitute was a sham,” Henderson wrote. 

“Ellis used a collection of elaborate methods designed to make it seem to the buyers that the challenge was actual and worthy of funding

The Bridge Financing Mission, which started in November 2017, claimed to contain the financing of economic buildings which had reached the ultimate development stage however had not but been offered. 

Ellis claimed former NHL coach and participant Kevin Lowe and hockey govt and former participant, Craig McTavish, had already signed on as companions. That they had not. 

9 companions have been imagined to share the price of the financing equally. As a substitute one man transferred Ellis $40,250 and misplaced all of it. 

Ellis additionally provided certainly one of his jersey program buyers a possibility to spend money on the acquisition within the window and door alternative enterprise the place he labored as basic supervisor after which was promoted to chief working officer. The person invested $49,475. However this too was a fiction, the choose discovered.

The corporate was by no means on the market, the corporate that Ellis claimed was aiming to buy it didn’t exist as a company entity and Ellis didn’t have the means to award anybody shares within the operation.

“He denies any dishonesty or fraud,” Henderson wrote. “I don’t imagine Mr. Ellis.”