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B.C. securities regulator bans man accused of Craigslist scam

B.C. securities regulator bans man accused of Craigslist scam

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A Vancouver man accused of using classified-ad web site Craigslist to solicit investors has been permanently banned from being registered to sell securities in British Columbia.

The B.C. Securities Commission said Thursday it has banned Paul Stiles from buying or selling securities or participating in the capital markets "for making misrepresentations in an attempted fraud." He has also been fined $35,000.

A hearing panel said Mr. Stiles showed "contempt" for securities regulation and that his conduct "shows that he has attempted fraud before and will continue to do so."

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The case was the second this year in which the BCSC alleged a company was raising funds using Craigslist. In the spring, the BCSC said it had began monitoring the site because it realized stock promotion has increasingly moved onto the Internet, and warned investors against ever buying shares off the advertising site.

The commission found that between 2009 and 2012, Mr. Stiles promoted an investment in his private company, Velocity Entertainment Inc., which he claimed would pay returns as high as 100 per cent within six months.

The investments were touted in the financial services section of Vancouver's Craigslist web site. A BCSC investigator posing as a potential client was told Velocity was raising money to finance two feature films, and was offered an associate producer credit on the films.

The BCSC said Velocity had not been registered as a company since 2005 and its office address was a mailbox. Neither Mr. Stiles nor Velocity held any bank accounts as promoted to investors, the BCSC said.

The panel decision in the case said Mr. Stiles had posted similar solicitations on Craigslist in 2009 and that BCSC staff had warned him he was contravening securities laws at that time. In April this year, he again ignored a warning from staff he was breaching laws, the BCSC said.

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About the Author
Real Estate Reporter

Janet McFarland is the real estate reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, with a focus on residential real estate trends. She joined Report on Business in 1995, and has specialized in reporting on corporate governance, executive compensation, pension policy, business law, securities regulation and enforcement of white-collar crime. More

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