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Investigation leads to charges against time share company

A Calgary woman faces more than 60 charges, including theft and fraud, in connection with a motorhome time share scheme. 

Government of Alberta investigators uncovered an apparent Ponzi scheme following a tip from Crime Stoppers. Between 2009 and 2012, several customers signed contracts with Pamela Vanberg and her businesses to buy time share-style use of a motorhome. After paying membership fees ranging from $5,000 to $45,000, the consumers allegedly did not receive access to the motorhome nor did they receive refunds as promised.

“Contracts between consumers and companies form the backbone of our economy in Alberta. We actively preserve and protect contracts through strong legislation, and investigate and enforce those laws when necessary.” 

- Doug Griffiths, Minister of Service Alberta

Some of the first consumers in the time share were allegedly refunded with money obtained from later consumers, resembling a Ponzi scheme. The majority of consumers allegedly did not receive any refund.

The seven victims represented in the charges allegedly lost a total of $118,852. Sixty-three Criminal Code and Fair Trading Act charges have been filed against Vanberg and her businesses, Calgary Motorhome Inc., and Canada Motorhome Inc.

In addition, Vanberg and her companies have been issued a director’s order under Section 157 of the Fair Trading Act to immediately stop accepting or collecting any funds from consumers until the business is in a position to provide the product or service specified.

Investigators believe there may be more victims and are encouraging anyone who experienced difficulties after entering into a contract with any of the accused parties to contact Service Alberta’s Consumer Contact Centre (toll-free in Alberta) at 1-877-427-4088.

Vanberg also operated companies with the following names that have not been charged: Calgary Motorhome Club, Canada Motorhome Club, AB Luxury RV Inc., AB RV, and RV Owner Group.

The case is scheduled to appear in Calgary provincial court on March 3, 2014.

Related information

Tips on buying time shares

Backgrounder

Charges laid following investigation

The following charges were laid as a result of Service Alberta’s investigation:

Pamela Vanberg

Criminal Code: Seven counts each of:

  • theft over $5,000;
  • false pretences; and
  • fraud over $5,000.

Fair Trading Act: One count each of:

  • operating a designated business without a licence;
  • failing to provide the consumer with a reasonable benefit from the goods or services;
  • misleading or deceiving a consumer;
  • falsely claiming to be able to provide goods or services;
  • falsely claiming that goods or services will be supplied within a stated period;
  • using a contract that does not comply with the Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation;
  • not holding a trust account for the business (violation of Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation);
  • not depositing funds into a trust account within two business days (violation of Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation); and
  • co-mingling funds with non-trust funds (violation of Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation).

Calgary Motorhome Inc.

Criminal Code: Six counts each of:

  • theft over $5,000;
  • false pretences, and
  • fraud over $5,000.

Canada Motorhome Inc.

Criminal Code: Two counts each of:

  • theft over $5,000;
  • false pretences; and
  • fraud over $5,000.

Fair Trading Act: One count each of:

  • operating a designated business without a licence;
  • failing to provide the consumer with a reasonable benefit from the goods or services;
  • misleading or deceiving a consumer;
  • falsely claiming to be able to provide goods or services;
  • falsely claiming that goods or services will be supplied within a stated period;
  • using a contract that does not comply with the Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation;
  • not holding a trust account for the business (violation of Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation);
  • not depositing funds into a trust account within two business days (violation of Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation); and
  • co-mingling funds with non-trust funds (violation of Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation).

The maximum penalty per offence under the Criminal Code for theft and false pretences is up to 10 years imprisonment, and up to 14 years imprisonment for fraud. Penalties under the Fair Trading Act include court-ordered fines of up to $300,000 or three times the amount obtained by the offence, whichever is greater, and up to two years in jail.


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