A Sri Lankan in Toronto, Jayawathe “Janake” Perera, who promised dozens of investors up to 60% in annual returns, has been sentenced to five years in jail. She was also slapped with a $3-million restitution order, the Toronto Sun reported.
From 2004 until 2014, Perera, 52, conned many of her fellow immigrants from Sri Lanka as well as others into investing their hard-earned cash in bogus schemes.
These scams ranged from plans to flip run-down Muskoka cottages to a development in her native land.
It was a Ponzi scheme, Crown attorney Renna Weinberg told court.
“All of the money used to pay investors came directly from other investors, and not from investments,” Weinberg said, reading an agreed statement of fact last month.
Perera took more than $5.5 million from 60 investors, but she pleaded guilty to two counts of defrauding the public for almost $3 million from 32 GTA-area victims, with sums ranging from $776,000 to $1,000.
The victims’ money was spent on various items, including Perera’s first-class plane tickets to Sri Lanka and travel expenses (almost $100,000), on her $92,000 BMW, a downpayment and on mortgage payments for her home and business condo.
Perera presented herself as a successful businesswoman who entertained clients at her luxurious home and drove a BMW with vanity plates.
She also travelled by limousines and attended casinos, Justice John McMahon heard.
“She aggressively encouraged investors to remortgage their homes and borrow from lines of credit … and encouraged them to refer their friends and family to her,” Weinberg said.
“To a more sophisticated observer, these investment opportunities were obviously too good to be true. Promised interest rates were very high, sometimes 72% or higher.”
She even paid travel costs for some investors to go to Sri Lanka.
“All of the ‘deals’ went bad at the same time. Victims invested, or so they thought, in different types of investments, yet they all went bad at the same time,” Weinberg said. Yet the scheming continued.
While she was out after being initially charged on April 30, 2012, she kept on ripping off victims. She was recharged in February 2016 and has been in jail since. She pleaded guilty last month and was given credit for one-year custody for her eight months in jail.