At least eight duped by Kamloops financial planner
It was February of 2010 and Carol had just gone through a divorce.
She received a financial settlement — enough to pay her daughter’s tuition fees and keep $10,000 set aside for a down payment on a house.
Carol gave the $10,000 to her financial planner, Ed Chieduch — someone she trusted and considered a friend. When it came time to put an offer on a house, neither Chieduch nor the money were anywhere to be found.
Margaret was a 60-year-old woman living in Kamloops and she had $100,000 she was looking to invest.
Chieduch took her money, saying it would go into a high-yield real-estate fund.
When Margaret died in 2010, her daughter contacted Chieduch, looking to collect the cash.
What she received instead was an IOU.
In August of 2008, Matthew was a 28-year-old entrepreneur.
Chieduch, someone Matthew had known for a long time, approached him and said he had a great investment opportunity.
Matthew handed over $20,000 and signed a contract for a two-year term, not thinking much of it.
When Matthew noticed his dividend payments weren’t coming through, he called Chieduch, who blamed the mix-up on a secretary who had been “stealing the money.”
That was another lie.
Chieduch, 58, has admitted in court to eight separate investment frauds — including the three listed above.
(KTW spoke with a number of Chieduch’s eight victims. Carol, Margaret and Matthew are not the actual names of the people involved in the stories detailed above.)
In April 2011, Chieduch was charged with eight counts of fraud over $5,000. Last month, during a brief appearance in a Kamloops courtroom, he pleaded guilty to a single amended count covering each of the eight offences.
He is due back in court next month to set a date for sentencing.
None of the circumstances of Chieduch’s offences have been read in court — that will take place during his sentencing hearing.
Despite that, KTW has obtained a lengthy collection of court documents — in addition to victim interviews — outlining some of his tactics.
Chieduch, who did business as Chieduch Financial, with an office inside a Victoria Street building, was apparently a trusted financial advisor.
Licensed as an insurance salesman — that certification was yanked in 2010, when allegations regarding the frauds began to come to light — he oversaw the investment of large amounts of money on his clients’ behalf.
Court records show Chieduch’s frauds began in 2005, but those close to him believe shady investments had been going on for some time before then.
He would tell his victims — with many of whom he had personal friendships — he had a hot investment opportunity.
A “real-estate equity fund” is what Chieduch called it, promising a tax-free 10 per cent return annually.
According to a lawsuit filed by one of the victims listed in the criminal charges, Chieduch even described the investment as “100 per cent guaranteed.”
It worked like this: A client handed his or her money and banking information to Chieduch. Chieduch promised to deposit the earnings into the client’s bank account each month. Every 30 days, a dividend return was to be deposited into the client’s account.
The papers were drawn up on letterhead of a well-known insurance company, but clients were often asked to pay with personal cheques made out to Ed Chieduch.
When it came time for those returns to start accumulating in clients’ bank accounts, payment was sporadic at best.
“He was robbing Peter to pay Paul,” one victim told KTW.
“It was a big Ponzi scheme,” said another.
One thing no one is certain about is just where the stolen money was going.
Allegations ranged from drugs to booze to women to misguided investments of his own — but that’s something that won’t be certain until Chieduch is sentenced as he could not be reached by KTW.
A visit to his last known Kamloops address — a house on Nicola Street — also proved fruitless.
Unclear for now is the total amount of money Chieduch swindled.
That will likely be made clear upon sentencing.
One issue raised by a number of former clients, and others close to Chieduch, is the number of victims — eight — listed in the criminal charges.
“I heard there were a lot more than that,” said one victim.
“I think this was going on long before we heard about it,” said another victim.
The 2010 Insurance Council of B.C. decision to cancel Chieduch’s licence described him as “an immediate risk to the public.”
The decision also hinted at the possibility there were many victims.
In addition to the criminal charge to which Chieduch has pleaded guilty, there is an ongoing lawsuit filed by one of the victims.
Chieduch was also sued by the company from which he used to rent his Victoria Street office.
Last year, a judge ordered he pay the company $5,395.20 to cover a $2,000 loan, in addition to unpaid rent and postage bills.
Other victims who have yet to file lawsuits against Chieduch hinted to KTW they still might do so.
“But, what’s the point?” one asked.
“The chance of getting your money back at this point is very slim.”
Chieduch is slated to return to court on May 10, at which time a date will be set for his sentencing hearing.
He remains out of custody.
Kamloops RCMP Const. Bernie Ward said any additional investors who dealt with Chieduch and feel they might have been duped can call the local detachment at 250-828-3000.