Arvind Kumar Sanmugam
Credits: POLICE PHOTO
"While the sentence I impose will not restore the victims to the situation they were in, sadly no sentence can do that, it can send a clear message to other potential fraudsters in our community," Justice Todd Ducharme said in passing sentence against Arvind Sanmugam Friday.
"That message is that they will be caught and, when they are brought before our courts, they will receive the harsh punishment they deserve. In my view, a sentence of three years is woefully inadequate. "
Sanmugam, 52, who boasted that he was a Cambridge-educated successful venture capitalist, was actually an English grad from India with no financial background. He pleaded guilty in September to defrauding his "clients" out of $1.1 million from 2007 until his arrest in 2010.
Ducharme said the "reprehensible" Sanmugam plundered the life savings of an elderly BC widow.
He forced a retired Barrie, Ont., couple to sell their home and he duped a young doctor at Toronto's Women's College Hospital, who he charmed on the eHarmony dating website and proposed marriage -- while she naively handed over her cash.
Sanmugam was ordered to repay his victims, but there's little chance of recovery. Once he is released, he faces deportation to India.
Ducharme said the "extraordinarily manipulative" conman told William and Barbara Blizzard that if they invested $100,000 with his company, they could make a monthly profit of $8,000 less his $3,500 fee.
They mortgaged their home and gave him $118,700 in September 2007 and every month paid him his hefty retainer. They lost it all.
Sanmugam's next victim was Vancouver widow Linda Zink, now 73, who was visiting her children in Toronto in '08. He hoodwinked her into believing she could earn enough to afford a second home in Toronto.
Ultimately, she transferred $662,000 to him by mortgaging her properties and liquidating her entire stock portfolio, which was lost.
"This devastating crime has caused unalterable damage to me and my family," Zink wrote in her victim impact statement. She was transformed from a vibrant, happy senior to "an emotionally and financially depleted" woman, whose adult children have been shocked and saddened by their mom's economic demise.
"My pride, my self-worth, my confidence and my health have been irrevocably damaged. On many occasions, I have felt suicidal," she wrote.
When Dr. Tuhina Biswas, 31, met Sanmugam on eHarmony in the fall of '08, he lied that he was single. The divorced father of four actually has a common-law wife, who still stands by him.
He bragged he could make Biswas enough money to support her disabled brother.
Biswas and her mom mortgaged the family's home and gave Sanmugam $328,705 to invest. The resulting losses forced her to pull her brother out of private care, Ducharme said.
In January 2010, he proposed and the wedding was set for August. Instead, he vanished that June.
Biswas discovered later that he hit on her friend using the same dating website and had been charged with fraud.
Crown attorney Grace Hession David said the tough sentence "will reaffirm the victims' faith in the criminal justice system."