Calgarians charged in $2M fraud for bogus RV camping sites, dock spaces at B.C. lake

The victims thought they were purchasing spaces at a development on the shores of Lake Koocanusa in B.C. (Scam Sweetwater, Marcer Ranching, Craig Douglas McMorran, Clearwater RV/Facebook - image credit)
The victims thought they were purchasing spaces at a development on the shores of Lake Koocanusa in B.C. (Scam Sweetwater, Marcer Ranching, Craig Douglas McMorran, Clearwater RV/Facebook - image credit)

Police have arrested two Calgary men after several people were duped into paying for RV camping lots and dock spaces at a southeastern British Columbia resort that turned out to be bogus.

It's alleged the scam netted more than $2 million from multiple victims between 2014 and 2017. The victims thought they were purchasing spaces at a development on the shores of Lake Koocanusa in B.C.

The project was variously called Sweetwater Resort, Sweetwater RV Park or Sweetwater at Lake Koocanusa.

The economic crimes unit at the Calgary Police Service started investigating when customers reported they had become worried about the legitimacy of the transactions after communication between them and the project's owner became infrequent, police said in a release.

Research imperative, say police

Investigators determined the sales transactions were not valid and the RV park was ordered to close by the Regional District of East Kootenay.

Project owner Craig Douglas McMorran, 61, of Calgary was arrested last week and charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of money laundering and one count of theft over $5,000.

It's alleged McMorran sold docking spaces for boats in the marina, but that the transactions were invalid, police say, because the slips were on Crown Land and could not be sold legally. In B.C., marina spaces can only be leased or rented, not sold.

McMorran's sales manager, Gus Kalabalikis, 53, of Calgary, was also arrested this week. He was charged with one count of theft over $5,000 and three counts of fraud over $5,000.

"Before buying any land or lot packages, it is always recommended to research the company beforehand and to have a lawyer overlook contracts and company information to ensure the transaction and business are legitimate," said Staff Sgt. Geoff Gawlinski of the CPS economic crimes unit.

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