Friday, July 13, 2018
Albert Allan Rosenberg ‘Incorrigible serial con artist’ slapped with ban from Toronto’s ritzy Yorkville district after latest prison stint.png
TORONTO — Albert Allan Rosenberg — epic con man, romance scammer and dodgy investment charmer — appeared to be again stalking unsuspecting marks in one of Canada’s ritziest districts with a charade of being European nobility.
Rosenberg was dubbed the “Yorkville Swindler” after his 2013 arrest for tricking a Toronto woman into marrying him and then swindling her of her life savings while living a lavish life in a Yorkville penthouse, but the sobriquet seemed confining given his globe-trotting.
The press in France — where he masqueraded as an aristocratic investor fooling businesses, realtors, art galleries, an auction house and a parade of citizens in the 1990s — aimed higher, declaring him and his female accomplice “Les Bonnie et Clyde de la jet-set.”
Rosenberg’s fondness for Yorkville, a centre of wealth that calls itself “Toronto’s most celebrated neighbourhood of style,” now seems clearer.
So clear, in fact, that as Rosenberg steps out of prison — scheduled for Friday — he has been banned from setting foot in Yorkville “for any reason whatsoever” after he was spotted there during a short-lived parole with a new name but same old game.
Despite living in a shelter with just $315 to his name, in March he was in Yorkville using an alias, trying to rent a luxury apartment, offering $10,000 a month rent, according to Parole Board of Canada records.
Intelligent and articulate
To understand the unusual condition for his release from prison, one needs to know how he got there.
His last known victim met him through online dating in 2012. Antoinette Larizza was 54 then and a divorced mother of two adult children. She worked as the director of a medical centre.
Rosenberg told her he was a wealthy, 56-year-old Swiss-Canadian businessman and heir to a huge Ovaltine fortune as a descendant of the man who invented the popular drink mix.
They hit it off.
Within a year he convinced her to quit her job, sell her house, marry and turn her money over for him to invest. Rosenberg tried to rent the penthouse of a luxury apartment in Yorkville but his credit was declined, so he submitted Larizza’s name, which was accepted.
They embarked on a whirlwind of grand living: fine dining and great wine, a flashy car and well-heeled friends.
But even on their wedding night, as guests ate at an expensive French restaurant, Rosenberg slipped away early saying he didn’t feel well, leaving Larizza’s uncle to pick up the large tab, she revealed in a Toronto Life interview.
Rosenberg’s façade eroded from there.
When Larizza confronted him about holes she was finding in his stories, he reacted angrily. He grabbed her and squeezed her arm, causing bruises.
Physically aching, emotionally robbed and financially drained she went to police. Detectives found a previous romance scam victim and a string of duped decorators, contractors and investors. Their losses were tallied at $1.6 million.
Rosenberg represented himself at trial and pleaded guilty to it all, eight counts of fraud, one count of possessing the proceeds of crime and assault. At sentencing on Oct. 11, 2013, Justice William Horkins said Rosenberg seems “intelligent and articulate,” but also “an incorrigible serial con artist.” Rosenberg’s betrayal left Larizza in a financial mess made worse by “insult and psychological trauma.”
Rosenberg was sentenced to five years in prison.
Being behind bars, it turned out, was nothing new for Rosenberg.
His fraud convictions started in 1988, which led to a four-year prison sentence. He then repeatedly popped in and out of prison, amassing a rap sheet of 25 frauds and a host of related convictions.
In between his Canadian swindles he prowled Europe for five years until his arrest in Italy at the request of police in France. He was charged with writing “cheques en bois” (wooden cheques). His investments in the south of France in valuable art, expensive cars, opulent chateaus and businesses were as phoney as his wedding vows.
His most recent prison sentence in Canada seemed to pass without incident, but once released on parole, he fell back into trouble.
Twice he was released and twice his parole revoked for being evasive and deceitful with supervisors. His last revocation came in March after an attempt to rebuild a gilded life in Yorkville without the obvious means to support it.
The parole board feared he was again looking for “potential unsuspecting victims.” The board told him his scheming ways looked “beyond control.”
His parole hearings revealed another shocker: Rosenberg really did have a connection to the inventor of Ovaltine (four decades ago he was married to his daughter) and there really is a trust fund; however, he has no access to the principal and all of its dividends are being garnished for various restitutions, according to parole records.
On Friday, Rosenberg, who parole records say is 75, much older than he claimed, reached his latest statutory release date, meaning he must be let out of prison.
As safeguards, the parole board said he must report all investments, business deals and intimate or sexual relationships to his parole officer and steer clear of Yorkville.
Julian Heller, lawyer for Larizza, said news of Rosenberg’s release would be “unsettling” for his client.
Over the five years since her marriage imploded, Larizza has fought for restitution. She sued Rosenberg, banks, lawyers and their landlords, claiming they failed to protect her from Rosenberg’s lies.
This week, her cases against the owners of their Yorkville apartment and a law firm she sought advice from before her marriage were dismissed. Her claims against a bank, another law firm and against Rosenberg himself remain.
Meanwhile, Rosenberg told his parole officer, that once released he plans to sue Larizza for his belongings in the Yorkville penthouse when he was arrested.
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