Man skips trial for Craigslist securities fraud. Now he's going to jail

It turns out going to your own trial is a really good idea.

A man arrested in Toronto last year after not appearing for trial on B.C. Securities Act charges has been sentenced to 15 months in jail.

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Won Sang Shen “Craig” Cho (also known as “Jae Kim”) pleaded guilty March 6 to eight charges resulting from an investigation by the British Columbia Securities Commission’s Criminal Investigations Branch.

Cho was charged in 2017 with violating the Securities Act after having solicited $270,000 from five different investors for online gambling and sports betting businesses. BCSC investigators later learned that Cho, while awaiting an October 2018 trial date, had traded securities of Plus Sports Media Ltd. with an investor, resulting in three more charges – breaching a 2013 BCSC administrative order, trading in securities without registration, and making misrepresentations.

Cho also failed to report to his bail officer, and didn’t appear at his scheduled trial date in Vancouver in October 2018. In November, he was arrested near downtown Toronto, following a joint effort by the BCSC, the Ontario Securities Commission’s Joint Serious Offences Team and the Toronto Police Service. He was transported back to Vancouver, and has been held in custody since then.

Besides the violations of the Securities Act, Cho’s guilty plea includes failing to attend his scheduled trial date and violating the conditions of his bail when he failed to report to a bail officer. Cho has approximately nine months remaining on his total sentence; he must also serve 18 months’ probation.

The BCSC order imposed on Cho in 2013 resulted from a panel’s finding that he committed fraud, made false statements and illegally distributed securities through his various businesses, including an online media company, a website design company, a media-buying agency and a website operations company.

Doing business as Chosen Media, he promoted securities on the Vancouver Craigslist website, seeking minimum investments of $5,000. He also promoted a $10,000 investment with Groops Media, despite being warned by BCSC staff that he must provide a prospectus when distributing securities.

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