Missing B.C. investment dealer turns himself in, faces fraud charges
Harold Backer has turned himself into Victoria police after being missing for 528 days. (Facebook photo)
While former Olympian Harold Backer sits detained in a Victoria jail cell, there are many more questions than answers as to where the investment dealer has been and how he has been supporting himself for over 500 days.
Backer disappeared on Nov. 3, 2015, leaving his two kids and his wife behind. He told his family he was going for a bike ride, but was later spotted on a security camera riding his bike off a ferry in Port Angeles, Wash.
After that he simply vanished — until Thursday, when he walked into the Victoria police station and identified himself. Backer, 52, was there to face two counts of fraud over $5,000.
At the time he disappeared financial crime investigators began looking into Backer and his company, My Financial Backer Corporation, after his investors received letters in which he took responsibility for their financial losses and admitted to heading a pyramid scheme with their money.
Fifteen clients got the letter. Their collective losses are in the millions of dollars.
Court records show Backer remains in custody and will appear in B.C. Provincial Court in Victoria on Tuesday.
Nick Prowse, a former teacher at Mill Bay's Brentwood College School who taught Backer, said the resurfacing of Backer greatly surprised him.
"You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was so absolutely surprised because I didn't think I'd ever see him again," said the 80-year-old from his Cowichan Bay home. Prowse lost $30,000 that he invested with Backer.
"I would like to get my money back and I would like some kind of explanation from him. I felt very, very betrayed."
On Sunday, Backer's brother, who is retired in Vernon, said he was shocked to learn that Backer had resurfaced.
"It was unexpected and I'm very happy he's back," said Ralph Backer. "I haven't seen him yet, but hopefully I will see him soon."
Ralph Backer said he doesn't know what the immediate future will hold for his brother.
"What I know is what I've seen in the newspaper," he said.
Among those surprised to see Backer return are Tony and Yvonne Carr, Backer's clients who lost almost $1 million in the alleged scheme.
Contacted at their Mill Bay home Sunday, the Carrs said they were advised by their lawyer not to make any public comments. They have filed a civil claim against Backer's employer at the time, Investia Financial Services Inc.
Their lawyer couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.
Mutual Funds company Investia Financial Services Inc. terminated Backer’s licence after his disappearance, stating he had failed to follow its policies and procedures that required him to disclose all outside business activities, like those of his own private investment company.
Backer, who competed in rowing in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics, had 20 clients with Investia.
Investia has said it had contacted all of the affected clients, that money related to their registered accounts was intact and they were issued regular statements. Investia said some clients confirmed they had other dealings with Backer on the side.
Backer had been a representative for Investia since June 2005.
-With files from The Canadian Press and The Victoria Times Colonist