The first sign that Gus O’Brien’s finances were in trouble was when a sheriff delivered a notice that the bank was about to begin foreclosure proceedings on his house in Toronto’s west end.
O’Brien had entrusted the management of his mortgage, his bank accounts and his earnings to a close family friend, who he’d known since birth. For years, O’Brien turned over his earnings each month to the friend, who was expected to deposit the money into his bank account. O’Brien was a self-employed psychotherapist who worked from home, often receiving payment in cash and personal cheques.
“All hell broke loose after the sheriff arrived,” recalls Peter Foote, a friend of O’Brien’s who lived in the house at the time. “We learned that the mortgage hadn’t been paid for months and, in the end, when everything was tallied, Gus had been swindled out of about $150,000.”
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