Charges laid in multi-million-dollar fraud case
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) today reported it has arrested and charged two men in relation to facilitating fraudulent sales of RV camping lots, cabin lots and dock spaces at Sweetwater Resort to numerous unsuspecting Calgarians.
Craig Douglas McMorran, 61, of Calgary, has been charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of money laundering and one count of theft over $5,000.
It is alleged that between 2014 and 2017, McMorran sold RV park sites fraudulently as the owner and operator of Sweetwater Resort, a land development project on the western side of Lake Koocanusa. Other names were used for the resort including Sweetwater RV Park and Sweetwater at Lake Koocanusa, according to CPS.
An investigation was launched by the Calgary Police Economic Crimes Unit when customers contacted police with suspicions about the legitimacy of the transactions after communication between them and the owner became infrequent.
“After a thorough investigation, it was discovered that the sales contracts from the R.V. park site transactions were invalid. As a result, Sweetwater RV Park was ordered to close by the Regional District of East Kootenay,” CPS reported.
It is also alleged that McMorran sold docking spaces for boats in the marina called “boat slips” at the resort. These transactions were invalid because the slips were submerged Crown land and could not be legally sold. In B.C., marina spaces can only be leased or rented, not sold.
In total, it is alleged that McMorran fraudulently obtained more than $2 million from multiple victims who believed they were purchasing legitimate lot and dock spaces.
McMorran was arrested without incident on Thursday, Sept. 16, at a residence in Calgary. He will next appear in court on Thursday, Oct. 7.
As the investigation progressed, it is believed that McMorran acted with an associate, who also participated in facilitating fraudulent sales of cabin lots while acting as the sales manager for the resort between 2013 and 2016, CPS outlined in a report.
Gus Kalabalikis, 53, of Calgary, has been charged with one count of theft over $5,000 and three counts of fraud over $5,000.
Kalabalikis was arrested on Monday, Sept. 20, at a residence in Calgary without incident. He will next appear in court on Friday, Sept. 24.
“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,” said 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.”
The CPS also offered thanks to Elk Valley RCMP for assistance in this investigation.