BCSC Accuses Notary in $83 Million Ponzi Scheme
The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) has announced the notice of a hearing against Rashida Samji, a former notary public, alleging that Samji committed a fraudulent scheme which raised $83 million from 218 investors.
Operated from 2003 to January of 2012, Samji is accused of offering “secure investment” to investors that has since been found to be non-existent. Samji specifically told investors that money would be safely invested into her notary trust account and would be accessible to any party during the investment period. Furthermore Samji claimed that the trust account was monitored and audited by the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia. Samji also claimed the investment money would be provided to B.C. Wineries, specifically the Mar Anthony Group, as a use for collateral for loans in foreign countries. Finally, the investment promised a return fee of between 12 to 30 per cent annually for investors trust in Samji.
The BCSC alleges that Samji’s claims and operation in general were fraudulent. “In reality, Samji had no notary trust account. She deposited investors’ money into two personal bank accounts in the name of her two companies, Rashida Samji Notary Corporation and Samji & Assoc. Holdings Inc. She did not provide letters of comfort to any wineries, and she paid existing investors with money from new investors under the guise of investment fees,” explained the BCSC executive director in an official statement.
Other wrongdoings Samji is accused of include the “falsification of documents and the creation of a false land title search as a part of a fraudulent mortgage”.
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Samji’s career as a notary public started in 1988 with highlights of starting a Notary Corporation in 1995 and becoming a roving notary—limiting her practice to covering those notaries operations that were unable to due to an illness or vacation.
The Society of Notaries Public of B.C. suspended Samji on February 7th and her practice was taken over by another appointed notary on February 8th. This led to Samji’s resignation on March 6th, 2012. Samji’s trial is set to determine the validity of this accusation through a panel of commissioners on May 1st, 2012.