Kitchener Market Organizer Charged with Fraud
The person responsible for organizing a Christmas market in Kitchener, Ontario, was apprehended following her confession of misusing vendor deposit funds for gambling.
Authorities from the Waterloo region reported the arrest of a 52-year-old woman from Cambridge on Sunday, charging her with fraud exceeding $5,000.
From October 27 to November 10, police documented 55 fraud complaints from vendors of the event named “It’s a Christmas Market,” scheduled to take place Sunday at Bingemans conference centre in Kitchener.
Additionally, twelve vendors from the “Christmas Shopalooza-Groovin’ Bytes” event, planned for November 19 in Cambridge, reported similar fraud allegations.
The accused Cambridge woman is slated for a court appearance on December 20, 2023.
Police suspect there might be additional victims who suffered financial losses and urge them to come forward. The investigation is still in progress.
Stacy Cliff, the original organizer of the market, confessed to losing the money in a statement on a private Facebook group.
In her post, she expressed deep regret, acknowledging her mental health and addiction issues led to her irresponsible actions. “It is with my most profound apologies that my mental health addiction compiled with my absolute selfishness has created a storm I cannot control,” she admitted. She expressed remorse for betraying the trust and financial investment of many who believed in her.
Cliff, who runs Stacy’s Events and has previously collaborated with some of the affected vendors, expressed her sorrow in the post, though she recognized it wouldn’t compensate for the loss.
The vendors, around 200 in number, had paid between $100 and $200 to reserve their spots at the market. They faced the risk of losing more than their deposits due to their preparations and stocking for the event.
Despite the turmoil and controversy, the Christmas market proceeded as scheduled on Sunday, thanks to the collective efforts of vendors and community members. The event, now called “A Holiday Market,” was held at Bingemans.
Stephanie Henderson of Lithostalgia and Sierra Gregorio, the new organizer, shared their relief and joy at the market’s realization. Gail Relf from Howling Moose highlighted the financial impact of the fraud on vendors.
The community and vendors rallied to find new sponsors and received a substantial discount from Bingemans for the venue.
Gregorio reflected on the successful turnaround of the event, which saw over 180 vendors participate. The event was deemed a positive outcome for both business owners and the community, with Butler noting the remarkable transformation of the situation.