They thought they were saving for their kids' education but were shocked to learn their money was gone

Posted
August 1, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Excited and proud as she prepared to send her daughter Alexis to university, Susan Tesluk called Heritage Education Funds in 2016 to make sure the money she had saved for the occasion was ready to go to work.

Instead, Heritage -- the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) dealer that sold her the plan when Alexis was one month old -- told her that the $8,300 she had given the company was gone. She had violated a contributions rule she had not been informed of when she signed up, Tesluk said.

"I was counting on that money to help pay for my daughter's education," said Tesluk, a single mother who lives in Timmins, Ont. "They stole my daughter's education fund. I was not aware that this was a possibility. I trusted Heritage like a bank."

Yu-Li Chang of Surrey, B.C., sued Heritage after discovering that the nearly $26,000 she and her husband had entrusted to Heritage was gone. She, too, was told she had violated the agreement. Chang, a stay-at-home mom whose first language is Mandarin, said in court documents the company never told her she could lose her money if she stopped making payments. She did not receive a prospectus until after she signed up, the court filings allege, and when she did, the document was "beyond an average person's understanding."

Tesluk, Chang and others lost their money and the benefits that flow from RESPs to a company securities regulators have repeatedly censured but continue to allow to do business.

An investigation by the Toronto Star found that since 2014, there have been close to 500 complaints to Heritage from customers who, like four of those interviewed for this story, lost all or some of their contributions.

Read more: They thought they were saving for their kids' education but were shocked to learn their money was gone