130 franchise frauds net two-year sentence

A Toronto man who used franchise schemes to defraud about 130 victims out of more than $1-million has been given a maximum reformatory sentence of two years less a day…the judge said, adding: “This was a deliberate scheme, as I have found, to bilk the public.”

The Globe and Mail
November 15, 1993

130 franchise frauds net two-year sentence
Only $7,500 in restitution made
Thomas Charidge

TORONTO – A Toronto man who used franchise schemes to defraud about 130 victims out of more than $1-million has been given a maximum reformatory sentence of two years less a day.

Martin James Halcro, 46, was convicted of four counts of fraud over $1,000 nearly a year ago and was originally to have been sentenced in January.

The trial judge postponed sentencing on being told Mr. Halcro had made restitution of about $105,000 and was trying to settle other claims.

But when the man showed up before Mr. Justice Bruce Hawkins yesterday, his lawyer admitted that Mr. Halcro had made only a single $7,500 payment as settlement of one claim, and prosecutor Paul Tait disclosed that new fraud charges were laid against the defendant earlier this month.

In passing sentence, the Ontario Court General Division judge rejected defence lawyer Peter-Paul Du Vernet’s characterization of the offence as one of simply overestimating the profitability of potentially viable franchises.

Judge Hawkins said the evidence showed that one of the schemes involved promises that the franchisees would make $74,400 a year in profits by circulating coin cans for charities and spending 2 1/2 days a month collecting proceeds.

The other three frauds involved scratch-and-win tickets, travel bonus coupons and a “barter exchange” scheme.

The judge said the would-be franchise holders were interviewed in an office containing a large map of Canada, with pins supposedly indicating existing franchises, and a picture purporting to be the office of Mr. Halcro’s company, Care Corp.

“There was no building owned by the company,” the judge said, adding: “This was a deliberate scheme, as I have found, to bilk the public.”

Outside the court, Detective Staff Sergeant Joseph Milton of the Ontario Provincial Police anti-rackets branch said a joint investigation with Metro Toronto Police turned up 130 victims of Halcro franchising schemes in eight provinces, and franchise payments that averaged $14,000 to $15,000, totalling $1,180,000.

A police source said the new charges against Mr. Halcro involve similar allegations and deal with the period between May 1992 and this July.


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Risks: Racketeering, Slap on wrist for white-collar crime, Police intervention, Convicted fraud artist, Outright scam, Fraud, Fraudster franchisor, Public perception of sleaze and greed, Canada, 19931115 130 franchise

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