Businessman at centre of group in Ottawa church sit-in is accused of cheating several people

·3 min read
Jodie Marshall says she trusted William Komer to take on the job of building a website that would have been vital to her business. But she says she's out at least $20,000 and still hasn't seen the final product. (Angela McInnes/CBC - image credit)
Jodie Marshall says she trusted William Komer to take on the job of building a website that would have been vital to her business. But she says she's out at least $20,000 and still hasn't seen the final product. (Angela McInnes/CBC - image credit)

A London, Ont., business owner says she's lost almost $20,000 to a company owned by the man at the helm of a group accused of squatting in an Ottawa church.

Jodie Marshall hired William Komer's Campus Creative in November 2021 to develop a website to manage school catering orders for her pasta shop. Months later, she said she's still waiting for the website and her calls are going unanswered.

"They were supposed to release my website to me in August," said Marshall. "The programmer kept saying William just had to put it on the secure server. But I never got my website."

Marshall is among southwestern Ontario residents who claim to have been stiffed out of services and money from Komer.

CBC News reached out to Komer, who responded to the claims on Thursday, including saying that Marshall still owes him more money for the website, on top of the $20,000 she's already paid.

Dan Taekema/CBC
Dan Taekema/CBC

Once known for his entrepreneurship, the owner of five London-area businesses has recently earned attention for his role as director of The United People of Canada (TUPC).

The group has alleged ties to the Freedom Convoy, which held pandemic mandate protests in Ottawa and other cities this year. The group moved into a historic church in Ottawa's Lowertown neighbourhood this past summer, and despite the landlord terminating the lease for unpaid rent and a lack of insurance, the group refuses to go.

TUPC claims the group has paid and has filed numerous affidavits alleging aggressive behaviour from neighbours. A judge is set to decide on eviction on Sept. 27.

The organization has put up red banners on the church bearing a white tree insignia, and set up its own private security force around the property.

Other complaints

Stephanie Steele of Ingersoll Ont., said she booked wedding photos through Komer's Under the Umbrella company, but on the big day in June, she said she worried they wouldn't show up. It then took over a month to see photos promised from the $1,300 package, all of which she said were of poor quality, she said.

Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press
Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

"There's weird groupings where my husband is in the back row, and my father's face is completely covered and everyone's facing different directions, and it just was very unprofessional," Steele said.

When she couldn't get hold of a representative from Under the Umbrella, she called the photographer, who said she'd have to pay for better photos. She made multiple attempts to reconcile the situation with the company itself, but there was no further response.

Angela McInnes/CBC
Angela McInnes/CBC

Under the Umbrella's website lists the company at the same address as Campus Creative, on 533 Clarence St., in a building owned by St. Peter's Basilica, which houses multiple organizations.

When CBC News went to visit the site, another tenant said no one had been to the Campus Creative office for at least three weeks.

Matthew Clarke, director of communications for the Diocese of London, said Campus Creative still leases the space, and the company remains active to his knowledge.

Komer also told CBC News he wasn't aware of client complaints pertaining to undelivered services for wedding photography.

He said a number of his staff have resigned due to harassment associated with his work for TUPC, which is why clients have not received responses to requests for refunds. He said he plans on hiring more staff and continuing his businesses in London while staying in Ottawa.