A Sarnia man who scammed more than $4,000 from unsuspecting victims will have 120 days in jail to consider his crimes.
Robert Dew, 25, pulled off the deception during two separate occasions, one in Sarnia and one in Lambton Shores. Both times he posed as someone who could offer a service before taking large amounts of money never to be seen again.
The cons started in July 2017 while Dew was performing maintenance work on a Brock St. North home in Sarnia. A new buyer was set to take over the house in August. Before the month ended though, Dew posed as a property manager and showed the house to a pair of prospective renters – something he had no authorization to do.
Two men agreed to move into the house and gave Dew a total of $2,300 in rent and damage deposits. The scam was discovered when the new owner arrived at the end of the month and surprisingly found the pair living in the house. They were forced to leave, and when they traced the check given to Dew they found he had already cashed it and left town for London.
In January 2018 Dew had a new scheme where he posed as a contractor. He responded to a Facebook ad from a Lambton Shores resident seeking roofing work and arrived at the Foster Cres. home with a truck, jacket and paper work bearing a company logo. Dew spoke with the owner and collected an $1,800 cash deposit, saying he’d return in a few days to start work.
But Dew never returned. After many messages from the owner he finally replied “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.” The owner was forced to get a new contractor.
Dew was arrested two months later when Sarnia Police responded to a dispute on King St. Over the next six months he missed three court appearances and a bail meeting.
“He’s had a long history of a problem with drugs,” says defense lawyer Robert McFadden. “Mr. Dew has a very serious drug problem that will kill him if he doesn’t straighten up.”
Court heard this almost happened recently when Dew and a friend overdosed on fentanyl. Dew was saved by naloxone, but unfortunately his friend couldn’t be revived. McFadden says this has led to emotional problems and a guilt complex.
“Until he gets a handle on that he’s just playing Russian roulette with his life,” McFadden says of Dew’s addiction issues.
“I’m prepared to make amends for my wrongdoings and I’m seriously looking forward to grasping sobriety,” Dew says during his opportunity to speak.
A joint submission from McFadden and Crown attorney Aniko Coughlan of 120 days jail was accepted by Justice Deborah Austin. With time served Dew has 96 days left.
“The fraudulent actions on your part deprived innocent people of money, and was fairly brazen and fairly impactful, particularly for two people who thought they had an apartment, thought they’d paid rent for it… and ended up having nowhere to live and lost money for deposits. Also somebody who thought they were getting their roof fixed had to start from scratch and raise the money to do that,” says Austin.
Dew will be on probation for a year after release. He must take addiction and grief counselling and pay full restitution to the three people he defrauded. He’s also ordered to stay away from all of them and submit a DNA sample.
“I hope that as you serve the balance of the sentence… that you will accept the help that is out there to help you meet that goal of sobriety, which is so important for you and your family and the community,” says Austin.
“We wish you well as you focus on recovery, and hopefully you’ll be committed to staying away from substances that are jeopardizing your life and your wellbeing.”
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent