2020-05-13

Suspect awaiting outcome after allegedly victimizing local society

by Keith Corcoran

The suspect at the centre of a theft and fraud probe linked to the Friends of Oak Island Society (FOIS) allegedly stole more nearly $50,000 from the non-profit group over several years before someone raised suspicion about ticket sales, which led to a RCMP investigation.

Police began looking into the matter last spring after someone who knew the accused contacted police. The suspect, a Lunenburg County man in his 50s, was arrested May 17, 2019.

He was initially slated to appear in court to face charges in November but it appears the local man's ongoing assistance to law enforcement delayed his prosecution, and earned him a less-formal out-of-court resolution to any charges he may face.

"Throughout the investigation the accused was very cooperative with investigators," Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, a spokeswoman for the province's RCMP, told LighthouseNOW. "He advised the thefts had been occurring since the beginning of 2016 and ended in May 2019. The total amount of money stolen is approximately $46,000."

"The matter will be proceeding through restorative justice."

The accused isn't being named because, as of April 16, charges haven't been filed.

Police obtained judicial authorizations over the last year to examine several electronic devices, obtain financial records for various accounts, financial institutions, and private sector companies.

A Lunenburg County home in Pine Grove, and a vehicle were also searched by police.

FOIS took to social media the day of the man's 2019 arrest, expressing hurt with one person's dishonest behaviour, and anger over the damage to the group's reputation.

"We have have been the victim of an online ticket scam," FOIS wrote in the online post. "Worse yet, it appears that the perpetrator is someone we have known and trusted for many years."

FOIS leads walking tours underlining sites of interest on the island germane to the story of buried treasure.

"It appears that the individual has been fraudulently selling 'tickets' for our FOIS tours," the group explained.

"Further, the individual has been using their knowledge of our online systems and processes to divert a substantial amount of FOIS' revenue - including funds generated from our actual ticket sales – to a personal account."

"Rest assured, we are actively working with the RCMP and will continue to provide any assistance required," the group advised.

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