A former financial advisor who stole millions from his family, friends and clients has been sentenced to seven years in jail.

Jacques James Scribnock committed an "ergregious fraud" by convincing at least 19 of his clients, many of them elderly, to invest in a shell corporation, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger said in his ruling Thursday.

"The impact on his victims was severe," Maranger said in his oral ruling. "He continued to live his opulent lifestyle on the backs of the people from whom he stole money.

Scribnock was arrested and charged in April 2013 on several charges of fraud between about 2008 and 2012. Last year, Scribnock plead guilty to 18 charges of fraud and one count of money laundering. Over a four year period, Scribnock collected about $2.8 million by convincing some of his clients to write cheques and bank notes to a shell corporation he had created.

Although it remains unclear exactly where all the money went, the court heard that Scribnock bought a luxury condo in Mississauga and his family said he purchased luxury vehicles for members of his immediate family.

Diane McMartin lost $50,000 after investing with Scribnock, her first cousin.

"He wanted to look good in front of the family because he was supposed to be the successful one that everyone looked up to," McMartin said after her cousin's sentencing hearing.

"He hurt the most vulnerable people in our society. I'm just happy that both of our sets of parents are not here to witness this."

Many of Scribnock's 19 victims were seniors who trusted him with their life savings.

Gail Worgan is among the victims who not only lost her savings, but her inheritance.

"It just ruined my life. My mother was so very ill at the end that I had no money to give her the care she needed at end of life," Worgan said.

Like many of his clients, Worgan had known and trusted Scribnock for decades before anything unusual started happening to her money.

"We're told it's a good sentence but It will never be enough for me. I've lost everything. My home is up for sale right now as we speak. I can't afford to live."

Scribnock will spend 7 years, minus the 18 months he has already served.

Tips on keeping your money safe, according to the Canadian Securities Administrators:

  • check their credentials and ensure their registration is valid. 
  • approach new investments and investors with caution. Question friends and family who refer you.
  • Watch for 'Get it now" campaigns or offers of 'insider tips'
  • ask questions if you don't understand something and take notes. 
  • be informed about your investments, past and present. 
  • review your transactions and account statement regularly. Watch for any out of character changes.