Missing Olympic Rower Surrenders After 18 Months

Harold Backer's back, but his clients' money isn't
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2017 10:03 AM CDT
Olympian Turned Fraudster Resurfaces After 528 Days
A photo from the "Find Harold Backer" Facebook page.   (Facebook)

Missing Olympian rower Harold Backer walked into a police station in Canada last week, ending a 528-day mystery—but the remaining mysteries include his whereabouts during all that time, and the whereabouts of the millions of dollars that clients of his investment business say he stole from them. Backer, who was 53 when he disappeared, was charged with two counts of fraud after he surrendered himself to authorities in Victoria, BC, the CBC reports. The last confirmed sighting of him had been Nov. 3, 2015, when he told his wife he was going for a bike ride. Surveillance footage revealed that he had taken a ferry from Canada to Port Angeles in Washington state.

The disappearance of Backer, who rowed for Canada in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics, became a criminal investigation within days after 15 investment clients—including friends, his brother, and his former coach, who lost $800,000—received letters confessing that his business was a pyramid scheme. He said he had lost their money in the dot-com crash 15 years earlier and couldn't get it back. Police haven't commented on where they think Backer spent the last 18 months. Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith says his name would have been flagged if he had tried to cross the border. "The question is: If he turned himself in in Victoria, how did he get back into Canada?" he tells the Victoria Times Colonist. (More Canada stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.