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Sentencing hearing for Victoria fraudster adjourned until March

Jan 28 2012

The sentencing hearing for a former advertising sales rep at Chek TV who defrauded friends in the business community out of $235,000 to finance his gambling addiction will continue March 15 and 16.

Michael Muir has pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud over $5,000 between June 2007 and January 2009.

At his sentencing hearing, which began Jan.10, Crown prosecutor Laura Ford told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston that the offences were a classic Ponzi scheme — a form of fraud in which belief in a nonexistent business venture is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money paid by subsequent investors. Ford asked Johnston to impose a prison sentence of two to 21⁄2 years.

Muir, who was a respected member of the media business community, persuaded friends he met in the business world to give him money, Ford said.

Muir told them he was buying a large number of flatscreen TVs from a supplier and selling them to high-end hotels. He promised them a 20 per cent return on their money within a few months.

The frauds were sophisticated, with Muir creating false documents using letterhead for the flatscreen TV company, Ford said. Initially the "investors" saw a return on profit, although it was rolled over into the next purchase of TVs.

"Multiple fictitious deals were concocted by Mr. Muir," Ford said. "But all the money was spent on gambling and it all came crashing down in a cascade of lies and excuses in February 2009."

The hearing was adjourned to allow lawyers to make submissions on restitution — how much Muir owes his victims. Johnston also asked counsel for submissions on whether Muir was in a position of trust when he committed the offences.

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