RCMP in Lunenburg County say a Bridgewater-area man is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000 from the Friends of Oak Island Society.
Sgt. Mark MacPherson said the 53-year-old man was arrested late last week when police executed a search warrant at his residence.
He said the man isn’t being named as the charges haven’t yet been filed with the courts. The man was released from police custody on conditions and is due to appear in Bridgewater provincial court on Nov. 6.
MacPherson didn’t want to discuss the details of the allegations against the man. The society said last week that it had been the victim of an online ticket scam that appeared to have been carried out by someone known by members of the society for many years. They said the scam involved selling fake tickets for tours from a fake website, and the theft involved the diversion of society funds to a private bank account.
The society said it was worried about its reputation and its finances, and angry about what had happened.
MacPherson wouldn’t say how much money was involved, but that the investigation is ongoing.
“It’s a complex investigation,” he said. “There’s more to this. When you start getting involved with things that are internet-based, there’s still a lot of searches we need to conduct and a lot more evidence to gather. Potentially this could spiderweb into more charges.”
He said the charges cover a date range, going back more than a year ago.
He confirmed that the person arrested did have a connection to the society.
The alleged fraud was discovered when a customer contacted the society and mentioned a tour that wasn’t scheduled. The society contacted police in late April.
The society provides walking tours of the island, highlighting sites important in the decades-old search for fabled buried treasure.
It said it has decided to honour the tickets of anyone who bought from the fake ticket website between last September and this past February, even though it did not receive the funds. It said that will increase the number of people on its tours, and it is working to accommodate the higher number of people.
But, the society said, it requires proof that someone booked through the fake site, such as an EventBrite booking number received from the scam site and proof of purchase. It said the process will go more smoothly if it can compile a list of people coming, and asked people to email the documents to email@example.com
The society said it maintains the right to turn someone away if they are suspected of trying to take advantage of the situation by pretending to be a victim without proof.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact RCMP or Crime Stoppers