KELOWNA – A Calgary businessman is sharing his personal story of how an Alberta man charged in Kelowna with fraud conned him out of $40,000.
Harry Patrick, 60, was in the market for a new home in 2013. With a bankruptcy in his past, he began casting about for ways to finance.
He found an ad for a company called New Century Real Estate that guaranteed loans to anyone.
Patrick replied to the ad and within a week two men who worked for Johnson called him back.
“I thought he was a realtor,” Patrick says.
Last year an arrest warrant was issued in Alberta for Derek Ryan Johnson, born 1970, after he failed to appear in court. The Real Estate Council of Alberta says Johnson had already been sanctioned and fined $100,000 for selling Alberta real estate without a licence but continued with his business.
After showing Patrick and his wife several properties in 2013, Johnson’s associate took them to a home in the McKenzie area of Calgary.
It was perfect for them, and all they needed was to put down $40,000 and Johnson’s investors would loan them the rest.
He wrote the check to a numbered company and never heard from Johnson or his associates again.
“Suddenly they weren’t answering the phone,” he says. “A corporate lawyer friend of mine told him he was a scam artist."
Patrick says he has since met several other people from Calgary with similar stories of fraud and deception.
He says one of their victims was a 70-year-old woman with cancer who lost her house.
Even the owners of the home the Patrick’s were trying to buy were victims of Johnson, he says.
“The people who owned the house went into financial difficulty, they’re decent people,” he says. “These guys hang around the courts and see who is going to court for mortgage insolvency. He looks up the information and goes knocking on the door. They offer to buy the house for $1, and offer to sell the house and help them finance another.”
Patrick says he filed a complaint with the RCMP but hadn’t heard any news until Johnson was charged with fraud in Kelowna last week. He says Derek Johnson also used the alias John Davis.
“Police said they are investigating but they didn’t even ask me to come in (for an interview),” he says. “They said there had been other complainants.”
Three years later in June 2016 an Alberta judge would sentence Johnson and his co-accused Kevin Anthony Kumar to two months in jail for civil contempt of court and issued warrants for their arrest. They were arrested later that month and spent some time in jail.
After his sentence was served, Johnson moved to Kelowna and last year B.C.’s Financial Institutions Commission issued a warning that canadapropertyguys.com, commissionfreesystems.com and ispeedprivatelending.com “charge opportunistic fees and commissions, and expose consumers to other forms of misconduct.”
A spokesperson for the Real Estate Council of Alberta said Johnson was behind all three sites and court records show Johnson and a man named Kevin Kumar were both recently charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 in Kelowna.
While Patrick admits to feeling embarrassed to have let someone take advantage of him, he hopes going public will help other potential victims avoid losing money or worse.
"I feel stupid," he says. "That $40,000 really hurt us financially but we weren't homeless. These (victims) are honest, hard working, young families, they were desperate and afraid and he took advantage of them."
To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.