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A central Alberta man faces fraud charges over an oilfield product that was supposed to have resulted in big profits.

RCMP say investors instead lost $2.6 million.

“It was one of the larger fraud files we’ve had in the area,” Const. William Lewadniuk of the Red Deer Financial Crimes Unit said Friday.

Lewadniuk said the man was selling a product he said would make fracking operations at oilwells cheaper and more environmentally friendly. He said, for example, he could cut the number of trucks needed on a fracking site to one from five.

“He was offering investors the chance to get in on the ground floor for a revolutionary new fracking product,” Lewadniuk said.

“He represented the product as if it was going to be sold to another company. If a company’s going to be bought out by another company, typically the stock goes up.”

Lewadniuk said the product had never been tested in a commercial setting or at a real oilwell. Nor, he said, can police guarantee the seller developed the product himself.

Still, at least 16 investors bit.

“It’s entirely possible there are additional victims,” Lewadniuk said.

After several years passed with no buyout or payout, investors starting asking questions. The man then cut refund cheques.

“All of the cheques bounced,” said Lewadniuk.

The matter was referred to Blackfalds RCMP in 2013. Eventually, Lewadniuk’s office became involved in a complex investigation that had to unravel a money trail through several numbered companies.

Dane Skinner of Sylvan Lake was arrested Wednesday.

He has been released from custody and is to appear in Red Deer provincial court Aug. 8.

He faces charges of fraud, money laundering and uttering threats.

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