Authorities must catch former Winnipegger, his victims say
It's like the plot in the Hollywood movie Catch Me if You Can, and the lead character is a former Winnipegger.
Timothy Szabolcsi went to school and grew up in Manitoba, and over the years has presented himself across North America as a doctor, a NASCAR race-car driver, a pilot and a professional hockey player.
But to the many people the CBC News I-Team has interviewed, he is a con man.
Szabolcsi went to prison in the United States after scamming Texas Healthcare Systems out of $30,000 US. He was deported back to Canada in 2010.
Today, there are people across North America who say they would like him to be found and brought to justice.
"My feeling is that I was a meal ticket. He has been doing this for a really long time," says Sheri Brown, who married Szabolcsi thinking he was a former Winnipeg Jet.
Brown is one of numerous women Szabolcsi has befriended, lived with or married over the years.
"I was absolutely swept off my feet. He was very charismatic and basically wined and dined me," said Brown, a real estate agent in Delta, B.C.
Used different names
Sometime in the summer of 2010, Szabolcsi turned up in Winnipeg, where he contacted friends from his youth attending high school in Selkirk, Man.
One high school friend spoke to CBC News and recalled that Szabolcsi would go by different names with different crowds of people in the early 1980s.
At one time, Szabolcsi used the name Mike Knight, the name of the lead character in the TV show Knight Rider, according to the friend.
The high school friend also recalled that Szabolcsi was "Mr. Personality." He married shortly after high school and lived in Winnipeg with his wife.
Szabolcsi told friends he worked for the military in the early 1980s, but then he suddenly disappeared from the province.
The federal Department of National Defence would not confirm or deny Szabolcsi's affiliation with the military.
Barred from practising medicine in Texas
Szabolcsi posed as a pastor and doctor in the United States and as a NASCAR racer.
Texas sheriff's officers say Szabolcsi lived in the U.S. illegally for years, sometimes under the alias of Dr. Andrew J. Szadolc.
His ex-wife, Sandra Szadolc, spoke to U.S. media in 2007, saying she learned that her ex-husband's identity and social insurance numbers were all fake.
In November 2010, the Texas Medical Board issued a cease and desist order against Dr, Andrew J. Szadolc, prohibiting him from "practicing as a physician, or impersonating or identifying himself as a physician."
The board found that Szadolc had fabricated medical identification, practised medicine and impersonated a doctor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The fake ID was used to sign a contract with Texas Healthcare Systems.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for felony theft in October 2009, but he was paroled and deported to Canada in 2010.
Friends told he lost ID, needed a home
Old high-school friends said they received a call from Szabolcsi in 2010, asking to be picked up at the Winnipeg airport and seeking a place to stay.
The friends said he claimed that he had lost luggage, his identification and his computer.
He appeared to be wearing hospital scrubs when they picked him up at the airport, they added.
Szabolcsi spent the next several months living in the friends' Tyndall Park house.
The friends said he talked about making Winnipeg his home once again and getting his medical licence in Manitoba.
Meanwhile, Szabolcsi found a girlfriend on a dating site and the relationship began to get serious.
Szabolcsi also used his friends' Tyndall Park address to launch an online business.
'Sums of money up front'
In his spare time, Szabolcsi volunteered with the North West Minor Hockey Association.
He was set to coach a team of 12-year-olds in October 2010, but a group of concerned Winnipeg hockey parents put a stop to that.
The parents contacted CBC News after they grew suspicious that the man they knew looked an awful lot like Dr. Andrew Szadolc.
"He was asking for sums of money up front, sums of money written directly to him, which is not the norm. The norm is it would run through the community centres," Steve Wiebe, a concerned parent, said in a 2010 interview.
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The hockey parents raised their worries with Szabolcsi's childhood friends and his new girlfriend.
The girlfriend broke up with him, and his friends kicked him out of their home and changed the locks on their doors.
Wiebe said Szabolcsi disappeared from Winnipeg after police were contacted. Roughly $1,000 has still not been returned.
"I say he has to be stopped. He's obviously going to continue, in my opinion, continue to scam people. That's how he just lives his life," said Wiebe.
"He'll take a wrong turn somewhere and get arrested, hopefully, because he hurts a lot of people who cross him."
Meanwhile, his childhood friends said they continue to receive collection notices connected to the online company that Szabolcsi started from their home.
Started companies in B.C.
CBC News learned that the would-be hockey coach began several new companies in British Columbia.
He was offering financing for large trucks and transport equipment through an entity known as Platinum Pacific.
The company's listed address is actually a UPS mailbox.
In 2012, a B.C.-based insurance company said it was ripped off by Szabolcsi to the tune of $125,000.
A trucking company in Ontario says it was approached to do business with Szabolcsi, but officials became suspicious and avoided losses.
That same year, Szabolcsi married Sheri Brown, the real estate agent in Delta, B.C.
"I just happened to meet Tim Szabolcsi at a pub on a Tuesday night … he was dressed in a business suit, he was with some business partners," Brown said in an interview.
"He told me he was a retired Beverly Hills doctor, newly up in Canada and starting a new business for himself."
Brown describes their romance as "whirlwind."
"I fell in love, he pushed a quick wedding and a quick marriage…. He told me he was an ex-Canadian air force pilot, he told me he was Pierre Trudeau's pilot, he told me he was an ex-Jets player and then sent to the Hartford Whalers," she said.
"So he sounded like he lived this amazing life, and I found out a different reality after the fact."
Claimed accounts were frozen
Brown said as they planned for a romantic wedding, the first signs of trouble cropped up.
Szabolcsi told her that his accounts were frozen by his U.S. business partners.
Brown said she soon lost $50,000 supporting Szabolcsi, cashing in her RRSPs.
"I had a lot of friends and family that were very concerned. He seemed a little slick for them and we would have long conversations about it," she said.
"I actually asked him before we got married if he had ever been convicted of a crime, if he ever went to prison. He said no to everything."
Brown said Szabolcsi claimed that he was working to get his medical licence through the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Brown followed up with the college and discovered that he had never made contact with the organization.
Brown said she became suspicious and soon discovered Szabolcsi had a history in the U.S. as Dr. Andrew Szadolc.
She has since kicked Szabolcsi out, although she says she still receives text messages from her ex-husband.
'Not a crime'
Brown said police have yet to offer any help.
"No one would do anything for me at the time, it fell on deaf ears, because it's not a crime to lie to someone, not a crime to take your wife or husband's money," she said, noting how convincing Szabolcsi can be.
"He will be the most amazing gentleman, seem to be the most caring individual — loving, affectionate, complimentary — and it is all a facade.
"He's very good because this is his business. You are his business."
Szabolcsi was last known to be living in an Econo Lodge in Surrey, B.C., and most recently went by the nickname T.J.
There was no answer when CBC News tried to contact Szabolcsi directly through his latest business, B.C. Loan Center.
CBC News also attempted to speak to Szabolcsi through his lawyer, Dale Sands, but Sands has not yet followed up regarding an interview.
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