VICTORIA -- A Parksville man who defrauded two British Columbians of more than half a million dollars has been handed the longest prison sentence to ever result from a British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) investigation.

James Warring Minnie, also known as Terry James Minnie, was sentenced in a Victoria court Friday to four and a half years in prison, the BCSC said Wednesday.

Minnie had been found guilty of two counts of criminal fraud over $5,000. The charges stem from money Minnie solicited ostensibly for a Venezuelan hedge fund between 2014 and 2016.

Minnie, 56, had previously defrauded the same pair of investors in 2007, but convinced them they could recoup their losses and make substantial profits this time around.

However, the Venezuelan hedge fund didn't exist and Minnie instead spent "almost all the money on personal expenses, including stays at upscale hotels, restaurant meals and liquor, along with many other retail purchases and substantial cash withdrawals," the BCSC announced Wednesday.

Minnie was arrested at the Beach Acres Resort in Parksville in October 2017 by the Oceanside RCMP. He has been held in custody since his arrest and, due to credit for time served, has only eight months left on his sentence.

In addition to the jail sentence, Minnie was ordered to repay the victims a total of $543,220 in restitution. He is also prohibited from contacting either of the victims.

“As this sentence shows, we will use all of the legal tools at our disposal to stop fraudsters,” said BCSC executive director Peter Brady in a statement.

“Our Criminal Investigations Branch has helped secure 37 convictions and put 18 people behind bars over the past decade. Anyone who is contemplating securities fraud should know that they could face serious jail time for their actions.”

In 2007, a Saanich police investigation led to Minnie being convicted of six counts of fraud and one count of theft for his role in an investment in a purported lumber project in Papua New Guinea.

The scheme resulted in at least $1.8 million in investor losses and Minnie was sentenced to five years in prison.