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Con man responsible for “chief scam” convicted and sentenced

Author: 
Compiled by Debora Steel
Volume: 
31
Issue: 
4
Year: 
2013

As with most good cons, the required element of greed was present in many of the victims of Michael Joseph Sisson, 38, who carried on a scam in Saskatchewan for six years, separating almost $54,000 from the pockets of people over that period of time. The “chief scam”, as it became known, was also successful, said Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter, because it capitalized on the belief that First Nations governments are corrupt. Sisson is behind bars now, having received a three-year sentence for multiple frauds. Sisson would contact a person with an item for sale online and identify himself as a chief from a real First Nations community. He’d tell the seller that he had a pool of funding that had to be spent immediately or else the funding would be lost. Sisson would then ask the victim for as much as $250 cash for travel purposes to pick up the item, promising to meet the seller at a bank to make the purchase, often at an inflated cost. After the travel money was advanced, the buyer would disappear. Sisson on some occasions would ask for money to bribe chief and council, saying “You know Aboriginal governments are crooked and I have to pay a bribe, so you kick me some money.” In one instance he asked for $13,000. Again he disappeared after receiving the bribe money. “Mr. Sisson seemed to prey on those people who were enticed by their own greed,” Ritter said. “I guess the point I’m making is this tarnishes the reputation of First Nation politicians quite badly.”

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