Man posed as Trump friend, police say

After taking the money, the man would simply vanish, often leaving his victims feeling too embarrassed to report the theft, police say.

The Globe and Mail
March 9, 2006

Man posed as Trump friend, police say
'Financial adviser' who arrived by copter faces 39 fraud charges for land deals
Jeffrey Hawkins

With a report by Timothy Appleby

When it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This may be the lesson for the 20 investors police say were conned by a man who allegedly posed as a personal friend of Donald Trump and the Reichmann family while stealing about $4-million over the past 20 years from gullible investors.

At a news conference yesterday morning, the Toronto police fraud squad announced that a suspect is being sought by police in Toronto, Guelph and York Region on 39 fraud-related charges.

Detective Rob Thomas described the person who pulled off the scam as a "very elusive and secretive man" who went to elaborate lengths to defraud his victims.

Most were elderly Torontonians, Det. Thomas said, adding that the man posed as a "successful, independently wealthy financial adviser" who conned his victims into investing an average of $50,000.

Many of the alleged frauds involved purported land deals in Toronto and Southern Ontario.

The man is said to have enticed his victims through flashy business meetings that, in some cases, began with him arriving in a helicopter.

He also claimed close friendship with some of the continent's best-known developers, police say, but spokespersons for Donald Trump and Philip Reichmann said yesterday they've never heard of the man.

Often seen driving luxury cars or SUVs, the man was last seen with a black Mercedes-Benz 500 series.

Victims were told they were joining a syndicate of private investors whose money would be used to develop commercial property.

The supposed deals included such notable addresses as 101 Yorkville Ave. and 525 University Ave.

The man is also alleged to have lured investors into deals in Moosecreek, near Ottawa, and Keswick, an hour's drive north of Toronto.

Police said the perpetrator left little in the way of a paper trail. Transactions were conducted only in person, Det. Thomas said.

The man never signed documents or even left a telephone number, police said.

The only way of reaching him was through a pager number or a Toronto-based postal box.

After taking the money, the man would simply vanish, often leaving his victims feeling too embarrassed to report the theft, police say.

Police say some victims have to sue the man in civil court, but in each case he failed to show up.

Court documents show that in Toronto alone, the man has been named in at least five lawsuits, dating back eight years.

One of those plaintiffs, whose claim is still outstanding, is R.N.T. Trailers Inc., a family-owned trailer-repair business in Mississauga that sought unsuccessfully in 2001 to collect unpaid debts.

"He cost us lots and lots and lots of money," said Phyllis Salerno, whose husband owns half the business.

Wanted is Thomas Mark Kirschner, 56. He was born in Tillsonburg, Ont., and lived at 141 Roehampton Ave. in midtown Toronto until four years ago, police said.


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