St. John’s (October 1, 2019) – Judge Robert Stack accepted the agreed statement of facts in the ‘Exit Realty on the Rock’ fraud case accusing former owner Anne Squires of theft, fraud, forgery, and breach of trust. The fraud was revealed in early 2016. In April 2019, Squires pleaded guilty. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 19 in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supreme Court in St. John’s.
The defendant, Anne Squires, was once the award-winning public face and owner of the real estate company ‘Exit Realty on the Rock’. On February 4, 2016, the former big player in the local real-estate industry had its license suspended by the Newfoundland and Labrador government. At the time, the company employed 60 real estate agents. After the provincial government suspended the companies license, Exit Realty on the Rock went into receivership and later went bankrupt.
Approximately at the same time as the corporation’s financial ruin in 2016, the police started an investigation when someone reported irregularities with a trust account in the real-estate business’s name. After a months-long investigation, on November 28, 2016, Squires had been charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, uttering a forged document, and breach of trust. At first, she pleaded not guilty. Only a few years earlier, she had been named a top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada, according to CBC News.
On May 18, 2017, Squires elected to be tried by judge and jury. A decision she withdrew in early 2019, when she decided to have a trial by judge alone. After lengthy plea bargain discussions by defence lawyer Randy Piercey and Crown prosecutor Arnold Hussey, the accused finally pleaded guilty to theft, fraud, forgery, and breach of trust on April 24, 2019.
Squires admitted to having drawn on money of a trust account of her former company Exit Realty on the Rock. A trust account that was supposed to be worth over $120,000. Additionally, she confessed defrauding ‘AccessEasyFunds’ – a pay-day loan style company that gives commission advances to real estate agents of which Exit Realty on the Rock was a client.
The fraud scheme included forged or fake sales agreements, and fraudulent letters of financial approval from a mortgage company, of which she was the sole director. In her guilty plea, she admitted to 33 fraudulent transactions providing fake documents to AccessEasyFunds of properties that did not exist or lots that had not been developed.
All 33 purchase and sales commission advances from AccessEasyFunds to Exit Realty on the Rock were revealed during the official investigation. The payments have been directed within a four-month period in late 2015. The advances total in $386,000 and were not repaid by Exit Realty on the Rock. In January and February 2016, advances worth more than $106,000 were paid out directly to a credit union account, which was controlled by Squires. Including interest, as of February 2016, in total, AccessEasyFunds claimed $522,000 in depts against Squires and her real estate company.
The former company owner was also incriminated by her former office manager. In court, she stated to have been instructed by Squires to prepare and submit the fraudulent documents to AccessEasyCash. Furthermore, the former employee described how Squires instructed her to direct money out of the company’s trust account into its general account.
Subsequently, Justice Robert Stack accepted the agreed statement of facts which was filed with Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s on September 30. Thereafter, Squires was released and is expected to show up in court for the sentencing hearing scheduled on December 19.
Marina Burghard writes for Canadian Fraud News about fraud-related cases, whistleblower, jurisdiction, identity theft, consumer protection, etc. – essentially about scams and how to protect yourself against this kind of fraudulent criminal behavior. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science where her interest in criminology grew. Besides fraud, Marina’s scientific interest lies in terrorism, extremism and how to deal with it as a society.