On Nov. 3, 2015, former Olympic rower Harold Backer left his home in Canada, telling his wife he was going on a bike ride. He never came back, setting off a huge search that took a turn once his clients, including friends and his brother, began receiving a letter from Backer in which he revealed he had been running a pyramid scheme.
The Victoria Times Colonist reports that Backer has been accused by former clients of defrauding them of millions of dollars, with Backer saying in his letter there was no way he could pay back the amount of money he had lost.
“My investors have been my friends and I have done a terrible thing to my friends,” Backer wrote in the letter, obtained by the Times Colonist. “If admitting to fraud would help restore the losses, I would accept the criminal penalty.”
Backer, who is believed to have been in Port Angeles, Washington, added that he was "truly sorry for the effects of my poor decisions."
Investia Financial, the company Backer worked for, has denied responsibility for Backer’s losses as he handled the transactions with his private company, My Financial Backer, the Times Colonist reports.
Last week, the 52-year-old turned himself in to authorities in Victoria and is set to appear in court on Tuesday. He is facing two counts of fraud over $5,000.
“I could tell you he wasn’t back [in Canada] very long at all before he went to the police station,” said Backer's brother, Ralph Backer. “We’re sort of surprised that he came back when he did.”
He added that the time since his brother's disappearance has been difficult for his family.
“That’s the biggest thing — wondering. You don’t know if he’s dead or alive. But we’re very, very relieved that he’s back and safe,” he said. “I just talked with his son and daughter yesterday. They’re very happy that he’s back.”
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