Senior saw investment as a 'safe bet'
Oct 09 2012
Senior Helen Dubas was a widow with a $12,000 debt when she says she was advised three years ago to re-mortgage her Royal Oak home to raise $100,000 for an investment that seemed like a sure thing.
The goal was to get enough of a return on the money to pay off the line of credit. Instead, she lost the $100,000 and now struggles to pay the $400 monthly interest on her debt.
The investment was in the Bethel Community Baptist Church being built in Sidney. Her financial planner said it would yield a 12 per cent return, Dubas said. The 73-year-old is one of about 100 Islanders who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the community-care complex - including a church, seniors care facility and daycare.
"I knew that they were desperate for seniors' care beds, so this seemed like a safe bet," Dubas said.
"It wasn't something like an offshore deal. It was here, built in Sidney and associated with a church.
Would you not think that was a safe investment?"
Her husband, Sam Dubas, 70, had been director of the James Bay Lodge, where he worked until he died in 2006. In his later years, he used the services of Victoria financial planner David Michaels, owner-operator of the now defunct Michaels Wealth Management, which closed last year.
Michaels was registered to sell securities off and on from 1996 to 2006.
It wasn't until a year after Sam Dubas' death, in 2007, that Michaels got into regulatory trouble and was disciplined by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. He was temporarily banned from registration and ordered to pay a $60,000 fine.
"[Sam] had a lot of faith in David," Dubas said.
Michaels, who could not be reached for comment, is now under investigation by the B.C. Securities Commission. Dubas said she has spoken to investigators.
Dubas said her investor profile lists her as wanting "low-risk" investments, but she now realizes a 12 per cent return would likely imply high risk.
"It makes me sound stupid, but I had a financial advisor to keep me safe so I wouldn't get into any of these kind of troubles," Dubas said. "I am a senior and widowed and the reason I chose an advisor is because I didn't want to get involved in all this financial stuff."
Still, Dubas hasn't lost her faith, or her grace. "I still have the three Fs: faith, family and friends," she said. "I think I'm very fortunate."
She could pay off her debt by selling her house but she wants to retain it as a place to gather with her daughters and three grandchildren.
Dubas hopes the people who bought the vacant Bethel building are able to get the seniors-care facility up and running for the community.
"I'm glad to see something finally happening there," Dubas said. "This was such a wonderful facility. It was just an ideal set up and it was associated with the Baptist church."
Despite it all, Dubas has retained her sense of humour. "I made a donation, I should get a receipt," she quipped.