The following article is based on events as I remember them. The information was from emails and discussions I had with Robert Robertson. I do not know if the names and events he gave me were true or fictitious but I have tried to be as accurate as possible to the facts.
HOW I WAS CONNED BY THE OX4 HOAX
You can find this sociopath on linked in: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/robertrobertson
I met Robert Robertson (above with his son in June 2002) in the summer of 1998 when I lived in North Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was staying with a friend, Linda who lived a few doors up the street from me.
He claimed he was a Non Canadian Resident living in Bermuda who was originally from The Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec. According to him, he came from a middleclass family where he was raised by his wealthy uncle, who later became his maternal father and, prepared and financed him in his first business venture at the age of twenty-two. He immigrated several years later to the U.S. where he built his fortune and eventually married.
Recently, he had given up his American residency where he had been living for about 25 years, mainly in Charlotte, North Carolina. The divorce from his American wife in the mid-nineties and separation from his son, Brendan was messy. Mr. Robertson said he had fallen on hard times as a result of a bad corporate venture and was waiting for a deal he had recently made on a Casino licence in Cuba. He claimed he was responsible for the promoting and marketing of several other products including “Armorall”, which he sold for $60,000,000 USD.
It was during the summer of 2000 Robertson first approached me with an investment he was involved in. I respectfully declined and it was not until several weeks later I was informed by Linda the investment was legitimate and I should invest in it. She offered to sell me some of the shares he had given her, which I accepted. That investment was in 360 Networks stock that later cost me a great deal of money but I was assured by Robertson he would make good on the losses and not to worry.
In the fall of 2000, Robertson started talking about OX4. Apparently, he had purchased two machines a couple years earlier from two NASA scientists who had developed a process to produce a form of enriched oxygen for the space shuttles. They needed money to skip the US after the FDA charged them with using the technology on drugs without their approval. Mr. Robertson claimed he paid $500,000.00 US for the machines that he had shipped to Vancouver. He did not know at the time if he would ever use the process but a chance meeting with a chemist made him aware the technology had great commercial value if it could be injected into existing products.
It was later while researching the machines Robertson talked to an Engineer who said he should patent the process and sell the technology. The equipment was sent to London, Ontario and a team of specialists were employed to strip and start the patenting and retooling process. It was at this time he started a new company Oxygen4 Technology Ltd. and set out actively promoting it.
Several months later Robertson seemed to have a new lease on life. He purchased a $4,000,000 USD house in Bermuda and rented a Private Jet to take Linda and himself to spend a weekend there and “check it out”.
Shortly after this, life for Linda and Robert changed significantly. There was talk of marriage, new cars, and dinners at expensive restaurants, shopping sprees at “Holt Renfew”and a future life of privilege. Robertson had plans to start a new company OX4 Skincare that would be managed and promoted by Linda. She had quit her job and was actively pursuing this as her new career. There were trips to Whistler BC where Mr. Robertson had purchased a new Condo for $3,000.000 CAD through another of his companies, Concord Capital Management Ltd.
During this time period I had moved away from North Toronto and Robertson began to pursue my friendship through personal barbecues and lunches. He laid out his whole life on how he was self employed from an early age and empathised with the self-employed person who always seemed to be making money for other people. He said he had come across this deal by accident and had more money than he needed. I had been a true friend to Linda over the years and he was going to put aside a small amount of shares in OX4 in appreciation of my helping her. This boost he said would help me get over that hypothetical bump and make me part of the new rich. I thanked him for his generosity and never thought any more about it.
It was about this time he set me up in a company, Avid Capital Ltd. with 1.0% of the OX4 Technology Ltd shares and a small investment in Concord Capital. He would later change my company name to Carrere Capital Management Plc and increase the share worth to 1.25%.
Robertson now had a slew of investors who, according to the Share offerings he emailed me, were investing millions in his companies. They included Larry Parks, an old US friend living in Lexington, Kentucky; Stephen Holmes, his lawyer in Vancouver; Sarah Dunne, an investment analyst in Bermuda; Wendy Lane, a wealthy widow from Palm Springs and her son in law Richard Kashnow, who was going to be the President and CEO of Concord Capital Management Ltd as well as Bill Jones, a retired ex-boss of Linda’s living in Oakville.
Things could not be better. International conglomerate Tyco had agreed to purchase the OX4 technology and in return would lease it to Proctor and Gamble.
There was a new Citation company jet that was being used for various meetings with Tyco. Concord Capital had purchased a small office building in Santa Barbara, Cal. that Kashnow was renovating for the new companies and Robertson was looking at purchasing a 100-acre coastal property nearby. The deal was happening and everything was coming together as predicted. Robertson was constantly travelling to the US and when in Ontario, spending 12-hour days in London Ontario.
At this time I was a small player in OX4 and, through various commitments to Robertson, invested about $150,000.00 with him. He would tell everyone about the OX4
Technology. My friends were sceptical but I never doubted his sincerity or the investment. He had offered me the chance to make more money than I ever imagined and continually kept reminding me how rich I was going to be.
I did ask if he had a picture of the OX4 machines, but he said the security involved with the patenting process didn’t allowed anyone except the most senior investors to view the equipment. “Even his son was not allowed to see them”. Besides, I was getting constant email updates from him and sometimes his friend Larry Parks as well. I had a signed promissory note whereby he had committed 10,000 Bank of Bermuda shares to me in trust as well as cancelled cheques to show I had given him the money. He was continuously in executive meetings with Tyco and looked like he had the troubles of the world on his shoulders. This scheme seemed too convoluted and far-fetched to be a “sham”. Moreover, I believed Linda was too much of a sceptic to allow herself to be taken in. I had come too far to turn back.
It was now January’02 and the first cracks started to appear in Robertson’s world. His relationship with Linda was on the rocks and his deal with Tyco had gone sour. The Lawyers for P&G did not like the agreement and wanted out.
To add to his troubles, in mid-February, American Immigration would put Robertson and his friend, Larry Parks, under house arrest for taking more than $10,000.00 USD into Miami from Nassau. This was after a weekend trip to Cuba on the company jet, with an unscheduled stopover at the Atlantis in Nassau. This little oversight and the fact it was post 9/11 cost them $2,500,000 USD in fines and legal costs. Robertson was barred from entering the US (which he later had lifted) and the Internal Revenue immediately audited Parks. This cost Parks several million dollars because of some questionable write-offs he had taken some years earlier.
But all was not lost. Wendy Lane had previously managed to arrange a meeting with a P&G contact in New York. They were interested in purchasing the OX4 technology directly from Robertson and after several meetings and conference calls, an agreement was made on the March 27, 2002 with a scheduled closing on the June 28, 2002.
It was at this time Robertson started requesting more loans from me. He had moved out of Linda’s and was spending more time in Cincinnati and Bermuda. When in Toronto he stayed with me and was always busy with conference calls at his lawyer’s office or travelling to London, Ontario. Linda was demanding $10,000,000 in compensation for hardship and being bumped off the OX4 Skincare management, which had been liquidated by the deal with P&G. Moreover, she was persistently emailing and trying to win back her relationship with him.
Robertson and his major investors were now travelling to the Channel Islands and Luxembourg. They were setting up offshore Companies and a possible Merchant Bank while taking side trips to attend the Farnborough Air Show in England. Larry Parks was purchasing a new Eclipse Aviation Tech Pioneer Jet. Wendy Lane had given Robertson a Ferrari 360 Spider as a gift in appreciation of OX4 and he was consulting with me on building his dream home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, instead of California as earlier planned. There was talk of arranging a trip with me to Florida to look at various properties and the delivery of a new 48ft Express Cruiser boat for himself.
The June 28, 2002 closing with P&G came but was put on hold because the equipment was not performing as promised. Robertson had to spend time in Frankfurt, Germany and London, Ontario; eventually travelling to London, England, and staying at the P&G research lab before everything was eventually resolved at the beginning of October 2002.
In the mean time he was active with new product marketing for P&G and was arranging to take over their advertising on the NASCAR circuit. They would offer him $85,000 USD per month in consulting fees as part of his agreement plus other insurance and health benefits. This would require him to spend one week per month at head office in Cincinnati and the contract would last for 10 years starting October 30, 2002, five days after the closing with P&G.
October 25th 2002 finally arrived.
I felt relieved that my boat had finally come in and now was payday. I had invested approximately $375,000 CAD in various down payments, investments, and loans with Robertson and was expecting the payback would be worth the risk – at least twenty times return on my money was predicted.
At the end of November, I had not received anything and there was no explanation as to when the funds would be paid out, although I was in constant contact with Robertson. The private loans I had given him were on my line of credit and I wanted them paid off as promised. I was adamant that he take care of this immediately and kept after him; however, he seemed to have an endless series of excuses and subsequent delays.
Then at the beginning of December I received an email from Robertson that he was pulling out of Concord. It had something to do with liability exposure and not wanting to be the scapegoat. He was removing Stephen Holmes, Larry Parks, Bill Jones, and myself, from the company. He said he was going back to basics and he would send me the 10,000 Bank of Bermuda shares to cover his loans. Frankly, I did not care at this point. I just wanted my line of credit paid off.
Sadly, the money never arrived and I noticed a distinct change in Robertson’s behaviour. He seemed more withdrawn and I was having trouble contacting him. I was worried something was wrong but I tried to be optimistic about it. Christmas came and I became more concerned and apprehensive.
In early January 2003, I spoke with W.C.Craig, Security Manager with P&G, Canada, who later that month confirmed my worse fears. There was no record in the company of any dealings with Robert Robertson and it appeared I had been the victim of an elaborate and clever hoax. The entire series of events seemed like a terrible nightmare. I was angry with myself for not acting earlier. It was hard to believe everything that had happened over the past two years was a total deception. Robertson should have received an Oscar nomination for his performance.
I decided to try and get more information on him. My last contact with Robertson was at the end of January at which time he tried to con $7500 USD from me using his son. This was a clever ploy and illustrated how he could deceive you with his charades.
Several weeks earlier he had sent me an email he was recovering from a stroke that affected his right side and I should not worry. It was shortly after this I received an email from his son Brendan requesting money. Apparently, he had used up his allowance at University and needed funds to cover his expenses. He did not want to worry his father because of the stroke. I realized immediately the email was a fraud as it said he did not know me although I had met him at Linda’s Christmas Dinner in 1999. Also, the email had punctuation errors unique to Robertson’s and obviously was sent by him. I replied to Brendan I was sorry to hear of his problem but was unable to help because his father was already in debt to me. A day later, I received an email from Robertson to his son with a copy to me. He told Brendan “not to worry about expenses. The debt with me was a personal loan for $600,000 he had given me to buy some OX4 shares”! Clearly he had forwarded an email to himself with a copy to me, as well as I discovered earlier, sending emails from Larry Parks to me. This man was the consummate conman who used the internet and the computer with impunity. Why would anyone have six email addresses and three cell phone numbers?
I decided to notify Linda that Robert had a stroke and see if she would come on side.
About a year earlier Robertson’s laptop computer, along with his passport, was stolen from his car when he was at lunch in London, Ontario. Linda was very supportive in helping him replace the documents. She knew his place of birth and possibly other pertinent information.
She had never forgiven me for siding with him and, as expected, was very unfriendly on the phone. She said I “had been taken by Robert”; he definitely did not have a stroke and she had nothing more to say to me. It was quite clear she knew more than she was letting on and would be of no help. I did not believe she was involved in the con; however, she did email Robertson about our conversation as he immediately contacted me that he would send money by the middle of February. Of course nothing arrived and I was getting weary with the entire situation.
At the end of February I had run out of patience and notified Robertson I was aware of his scam and expected full repayment or I would file a formal complaint with the Toronto
Police and notify Revenue Canada. He was very quick to reply he had “screwed-up” and he would repay me but needed some time to get things organized.
After several emails and delays, Robertson arranged to have a $35,000.00 down payment and a repayment schedule at his lawyer’s office in Toronto on the March 24, 2003. As expected, this meeting was postponed and he requested more time to get the money. His phone messages were almost apologetic and it was this “nice guy” quality that made me vulnerable to his charms. But I was resolute he had to pay something quickly or I would follow through on my undertaking. Unbelievably, he was suggesting he still valued my friendship and wanted to try and regain it. But I had no sympathy for him and made up my mind that he would either pay me or I would have him charged.
The best evidence I had of his debt to me were the bad cheques he had written me several months earlier, and that was fraud. The remainder of the scenario would play out with time.
On Monday, March 31st 2003, I decided to test Linda and see where her allegiance was. It would be great if she came on side. I phoned and told her I was preparing to file a fraud charge against Robertson and suggested she join forces with me. I mentioned in the likelihood that she did not, the police may contact her. Also, I would be notifying Revenue Canada about Robert and the cheque I gave her, for the shares she sold me in August 2000, would be submitted as part of the evidence. She was unconcerned and said she would call the following day. I suspected she might be sympathetic to Robertson.
As expected, I received a blistering email from Robertson accusing me of creating a “threatening, smearing, factitious campaign of unproven innuendos” and that “a prosecutor would never accept this case as there was no real evidence”. However he did say that he would have $25,000 USD payment for me at his lawyers on Wednesday afternoon. It was evident Linda was on his side and I surmised her involvement was more than I originally believed.
Thursday morning I had not received any news from Robertson or his lawyer. The deadline was over and now I had the tricky task of informing the authorities. I had to convince them that this man was a conman and fraud artist. I would take the time to formulate the evidence.
On Wednesday, May 21, 2003, I formally had charges laid against Robertson for passing bad cheques. I knew this would be the beginning of a long process and the results, if any, would depend on any other charges filed with the Fraud Squad. I did not desire to spend any money in hiring lawyers for a civil case. I had already lost enough to this conman.
In the last week of June 2003, I received a call from Linda. She was charging Robert with credit card fraud. It seems he obtained two cards in her name and over a period of several years used them to purchase and obtain cash withdrawals. Earlier that month he left abruptly with his bags while she was dressing for a trip they were supposedly taking to Europe. When she contacted him on his “Blackberry” he admitted the trip was all a hoax and he was sorry. Later she discovered he had run up a $40,000 debt and the bank had put a lien against her house. It appeared Robertson was still operating with impunity and was capable of perpetrating crimes at will.
I was glad to have Linda on side as she had his passport and drivers license numbers but it also shed light on the conniving con man that Robertson really was. Apparently, he was very much involved with her even when he was telling me what a “money-hungry bitch” she was. Similarly he was telling her what “a small-minded man I was with no talents”. He would call her from my home saying he was in Cincinnati and visa-versa. She said he never took her to Bermuda but she knew about the house. The scams he objected her to were mind-boggling and the emotional impact enormous. This man was a dangerous predator and should be locked away.
The first week of July 2003, I decided to call the Fraud Squad and see if they had anything to report. They informed me they had me on file but would not be looking into the case soon because of the present backlog. I was informed that even if Robertson was charged and convicted it was unlikely he would ever do any jail time. The courts did not consider this crime “harmful” enough to justify incarcerating someone. It appeared Robertson had won again because of the system. However, they did say that reporting him to Revenue Canada would probably have more fruitful results but it would take time for charges to be laid. A well-written expose in a national publication would be an option but there would have to be more individuals involved.
In February 2005, I was invited by the Fraud Squad to make a formal video statement about my involvement with Robertson and the subsequent fraud he perpetrated on me. I was hopeful that he would be arrested and that justice would prevail. However what I really wanted was to see him locked up with hardened criminals, even for 6 months. But I knew that the system had different rules for this type of predator.
Time will tell if Robert Robertson is ever brought to justice.