Alberta men charged in $2M fraud case on shores of B.C.'s Lake Koocanusa

Police: Men sold bogus lots

Two Alberta men have been charged in a multi-million fraud case that saw several people buy lakeside cabin lots and dock spaces that didn’t actually exist.

The Calgary Police allege the scam pulled in over $2 million dollars between 2014 and 2017, when buyers were told they were buying lots on Lake Koocanusa, southeast of Cranbrook.

The development was sold as the “Sweetwater RV Park” and “Sweetwater at Lake Koocanusa.”

The Calgary Police economic crimes unit became involved after buyers contacted them with suspicions about the legitimacy of the transactions after communication between them and the owner became infrequent.

An investigation determined that the sales contracts were invalid and the Sweetwater RV Park was ordered to close by the Regional District Office of East Kootenay.

Police also allege the two men sold boat slips at the resort’s marina, something not legally possible in B.C., as docking spaces on Crown land can only be leased or rented.

Craig Douglas McMorran, 61, was arrested Sept. 16 in Calgary and charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of money laundering and one count of theft over $5,000.

McMorran’s sales manager, 53-year-old Gus Kalabalikis, was also arrested on Tuesday and charged with one count of theft over $5,000 and three counts of fraud over $5,000.

“Before buying any land or lot packages, it is always recommended to research the company beforehand and to have a lawyer overlook contracts and company information to ensure the transaction and business are legitimate,” says Staff Sergeant Geoff Gawlinski of the Calgary Police Service Economic Crimes Unit.

“Finding out you are a victim of fraud can be devastating and can have lasting emotional and financial impacts. We encourage anyone who believes they are a victim of any fraud to report it to police so we can investigate appropriately.”

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