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Defend Fraud Charges

Crime Statistics

Fraud offences can take many forms and have become more common as technology becomes more accessible. They can result in victims and Canadian businesses losing significant amounts of money or property according to a 2021 report from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Statistics Canada provides annual financial crime data on fraud trends across the country, as a general rule, fraud charges are less common than theft.

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National Fraud Under $5000 Charges in 2022
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Contribution to the Crime Severity Index
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Theft Over $5000 Charges in Canada 2022
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Unfounded Incidents of Fraud Under $5000 in 2022

Our Experience

Donich Law has experience defending a wide array of fraud charges with a wide variety of clients in in the GTA and across Ontario. Those charged with fraud offences face serious penalties upon conviction including jail time. Whether or not an accused will be sentenced to custody will depend largely on their criminal history, the nature of the fraud, and the value of the fraud. Fraud offences are categories based on the type of fraud and the amount. Where the value of the fraud is over $5,000, the individual will be charged with fraud over $5,000, which is a straight indictable offence. Individuals charged with straight indictable offences face increased penalties on conviction.

In some cases of fraud, the individual charged may not even know they were committing fraud. For example, many people are unaware that they could be charged with fraud for submitting incorrect or inaccurate health insurance claims under their employee health plan. Unfortunately, being unaware that one’s actions are criminal is not a defence in Canada. Such an accused person is advised to hire experienced legal counsel to assist in protecting their rights.

In 2017, the Firm represented an accused client alleged to have sold fake concert tickets online in R. v. A.L. [2017]. Several years after the alleged offence, the accused was contacted by law enforcement and asked to turn himself in to be arrested. The client was surprised given the amount of time that had passed and was unaware that selling the fake tickets could result in a criminal charge for fraud. The Firm was able to carefully analyse and challenge the evidence provided by the Crown and law enforcement, poking enough holes in the case to secure a withdrawal.

In 2014, the Firm represented an individual who had been unwittingly tricked into participating in a sophisticated TTC token and Metropass fraud ring in R. v. I.B. [2014]. The client was charged with fraud, uttering forged documents, and possession of property obtained by crime after she was caught in a police sting to catch fraudsters. The client was unaware the pass she had been using to access the TTC in Toronto was fraudulent, as she had purchased it from someone she trusted as a friend. The Firm collected and presented evidence to the Crown to show that the accused had not been the one to create the scam and had been completely unaware she was participating in it. The evidence presented to the Crown resulted in a withdrawal.

Fraud offences carry significant penalties including possible jail time. If an individual has committed fraud against an employer, they will face increased penalties due to the aggravating nature of an offence involving a violation of a position of trust or authority. If you have been accused of committing fraud, it is important to contact and consult with experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. Donich Law regularly achieves favourable results for our clients, including those charged with fraud offences.

Fraud offences continue to be prevalent in modern society. This is as true to residents of Brampton as it is elsewhere in Ontario. A report from the Peel Regional Police indicates that in 2020 there were 1,918 reports of fraud compared to 2,251 in 2021. When adjusted to account for population, this means that for every 1,000 people, there were 130.4 and 150.4 reported frauds in each year respectively. This volume emphasizes that every person needs to be aware of fraud in their everyday lives.

Punishments for Fraud Depend on the Value of the Property

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In addition to assisting clients that may have been unaware they were committing fraud; the Firm also has experience representing individuals who have actively participated in fraud schemes. This includes those who have participated in or organized sophisticated fraud schemes. While ignorance to the law is never a defence to a crime, those who actively participate in fraud schemes are considered more morally blameworthy by the court. As a result, these individuals tend to face more severe penalties on conviction.

In 2018, Donich Law represented an individual who was alleged to have participated in an international fraud ring involving individuals in both the U.S. and Canada in R. v. Z.U. [2018]. The accused was arrested after law enforcement officials from Canada and the U.S. uncovered a scheme to defraud seniors in the U.S. and then convert the funds into Gold Bullion to be transported over the Canadian border to be sold. The Firm carefully analysed the material provided by the Crown and discovered that some of the evidence would not be admissible against the accused based on Canadian rules of evidence. The Firm exploited the inadmissible evidence to show that the Crown could no longer make their case against the accused. Nine charges of fraud and money laundering were stayed.

How to Defend Fraud Under $5000

In 2015, the Firm represented a client who was allegedly participating in a scheme to defraud retail stores in the GTA including Target and Staples stores in R. v. K.L. [2015]. The accused in this case had been participating in a scheme along with other individuals where they would steal items from a retail store and then return the items for a cash refund. In some cases, those who participate in these types of theft and fraud scheme become addicted to the thrill of getting away with it, causing them to continue the behaviour until they do eventually get caught. At the time of the accused’s arrest, Target stores were leaving Canada. The Firm challenged the Crown’s ability to call witnesses from Target given this new development. As a result, the charges against the accused were withdrawn.

In 2015, the Firm represented an accused individual alleged to have participated in a complex scheme to defraud Home Sense stores in R. v. S.C. [2015]. The case involved two co-accused family members who had allegedly developed a plot to defraud over $60,000 from the store by having an employee pretend to scan items that were later allegedly removed from the store without being paid for by the accused. Loss prevention staff began investigating after inventory issues became apparent. Eventually, the investigation uncovered the plot, and it was reported to law enforcement. The Firm was able to negotiate a resolution that avoided a criminal record for the client.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Common Bail Conditions for Fraud?

If an accused person is released on bail prior to a trial for fraud, they will have to agree to and follow certain conditions. If these conditions are violated, the accused will be subject to pre-trial detention. Because fraud is a crime against property, its common bail conditions are different than a crime against a person such as assault. Common bail conditions for fraud can include: a no contact order that prohibits the accused from contacting any of their victims; a ban from the location or, if applicable, locations of the same franchise where the fraud was committed; a prohibition against possessing financial instruments like credit cards that are not in the accused’s name; and the offender may be ordered to notify the police of any change of employment or address. These conditions are meant to protect the victims of fraud, while making it easier for the police to know if any of these conditions have been breached.

What are the Common Penalties Faced by Someone Convicted of Fraud in Brampton?

Section 380(1) of the Code sets out the punishments that offenders face if they are convicted of fraud. At the most severe end, anyone convicted of fraud where the value of the money or other goods at issue is more than $5,000, the accused fraudulently affected a public market like the stock market or the sale of goods, or if the fraud involved someone’s last will and testament, the accused can be sentenced to up to fourteen years imprisonment. If the value of the subject of the fraud is less than $5,000, they can face either two years imprisonment if the Crown elects to prosecute a case as an indictable offence, or up to two years less a day of imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine if the case is prosecuted as a summary offence.

A judge may also issue a forfeiture order that requires the offender to give up the proceeds of the fraud, or a restitution order which forces the offender to pay the victim back the amount of the fraud if an actual loss occurred. Or in some circumstances, an order will be issued that prevents someone from holding employment or a volunteer position where they have authority over someone else’s money for a specified period up to and including a lifetime prohibition in the most serious cases. The exact sentence an offender receives will depend on the circumstances of the offence and any applicable aggravating and mitigating factors.

What are Some of the Different Types of Fraud?

Fraud can take many forms, as the only requirement is that a fraudster needs to knowingly trick or deceive a victim into giving them money or other valuable goods. The current state of technology adds more variety to the kinds of possible schemes, while also increasing the chances of victimization. The Peel Regional Police have developed resources that describe common types of fraud and provide advice on how the residents of the region – including Brampton – can best protect themselves.

Beyond the types of schemes outlined by the resource provided above, people should be aware of other common schemes. Ponzi schemes are frauds where someone tricks a group of victims into investing in something and promising a big return on that investment. The fraudster then pockets the money given to him instead of investing it and tricks more people into investing. To keep the scheme going longer, the fraudster may use some of the money from the second group of victims to pay out the first group, making the scheme seem legitimate. Users of online marketplaces like Kijiji also need to be aware of several possible schemes such as fraudsters knowingly selling merchandise that is in a different condition than advertised and hiding it from a buyer, attempting to avoid conducting a transaction face-to-face and with payment in advance, and more.

Will Someone Go to Jail for Fraud in Brampton?

Imprisonment is a common sentence for fraud offences. The exact sentence each person receives will depend on the circumstances of each case and the balance of aggravating and mitigating factors. However, s. 380(1.1) of the Code sets the minimum sentence for any fraud valued over $1 million at two years imprisonment. The key consideration behind the law’s scope of punishment for fraud is the reality that it can have severe impacts on the lives of victims and the economy. This compounded by the fact that the most vulnerable parts of society are often targets for fraud.

The law imposes strict punishment for fraud partially because it seeks to protect relationships of trust like those between family members, caretakers and their charges, and particularly employers and employees. If an offender abuses such a relationship, a prison sentence is more likely. These circumstances can also lead to imprisonment for young offenders, a rare thing in Canadian law, which highlights the importance of this matter.

An example of a sentence stemming from an abuse of trust can be seen in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia case of R. v. Tibbo, 2022 NSSC 321 (CanLII) where an offender was convicted of fraud and theft after they had been hired by the sole owner of a business to handle bookkeeping duties. The business owner was illiterate and placed their complete trust in the offender. Over the course of about two years, the offender completely emptied their employer’s account, valuing almost $100,000. Based on these facts, the offender was sentenced to six months imprisonment, 12 months of probation and was ordered to pay restitution to the victim.

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Recent Cases

R. v. Varga, 2021 BCPC 286

The Provincial Court of British Columbia case of R. v. Varga demonstrates further how the law aims to protect a vulnerable class of people victimized by fraud. The facts of the case concerned a middle-aged woman who lives with a disability and diminished mental capacity which led to her residing in a community living home. The offender was a caretaker at the facility who helped the victim with all her basic daily needs. As part of this arrangement, the offender had access to the victim’s bank account and took roughly $12,000 for her own benefit.

In determining the appropriate sentence, the judge highlighted two of the principles of sentencing under Canadian law. They are that a punishment should act as a strong statement against criminal behaviour and should deter others from committing similar offences. The defence made the submission that the offender should be allowed to serve her sentence conditionally in the community. In weighing the relevant factors, the judge determined, “Given the duty of trust placed in Ms. Varga as a caregiver and the vulnerability of the victim, I conclude that the aggravating features of this case require a custodial sentence and that a conditional sentence order would not adequately address the need for denunciation and deterrence.” [at para 44] As a result, the offender was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, two years of probation and order to pay $14,000 in restitution to the victim.

R. v. Durant, 2021 ABPC 79

The Provincial Court of Alberta case of R. v. Durant involved fraud in the context of an employment relationship. The offender was convicted of fraud over $5,000 after they were hired as a chef by a small restaurant and was given a debit card meant to purchase supplies. The offender made 112 transactions for their personal benefit worth a total of just over $7,000. For their offence, the offender was sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence and 12 months of probation.

The relevant facts that led to this sentence were the fact that the offender committed the fraud to finance a drug addiction. After being confronted by the victim, the offender paid the amount of the fraud back on their own and began treatment for his addiction. As mentioned above, an offender’s attempt at rehabilitation and expression of remorse are mitigating factors that can lessen a sentence.

In summary, the judge noted, “On the other hand, the cause of the offence was not greed.  It was an addiction that the accused had tried to address previously.  He went into residential treatment immediately upon being confronted.  Since then he has done everything necessary to contribute to his own recovery, and more importantly, to the recovery of others that he has sponsored.  He has become a good person and a good employee.  He has confronted his problem and conquered it.  He has, in short, done all that society could ask of him.” [at para 31]

R. v. Fairrae, 2021 NSPC 12

The Provincial Court of Nova Scotia case of R. v. Fairrae concerned an offender who assumed the online persona of another person and then formed a relationship with three young women. He built enough trust to have the victims provide him with several cheques, which he then cashed. When the offender repaid the funds, the victims were unable to claim them because of insufficient funds in the offender’s account. As a result, the offender was charged with three different counts of fraud, two were under $5,000 and the third exceeded that threshold. Ultimately, he was convicted and sentenced to 220 days imprisonment, eighteen months of probation and was ordered to pay restitution to each victim.

Of note here was the fact that the offender had an extensive criminal record that included a previous fraud charge and breaches of court orders. This factored into the sentence in this case. “The August 2018 fraud involved a friend and facts eerily similar to those before the Court today. The February 2019 threat involved that same woman and arose when she tried to get her money back. The February 2019 fraud involved a woman Mr. Fairrae met on Tinder and to whom he provided a false name. She was threatened and deposited 14 cheques suffering a $2,700.00 personal loss. The August 2019 perjury charge arose when Mr. Fairrae testified at a bail hearing and told the presiding judge, he was employed full time at a named company. Police checks determined he was not employed with the stated company in any capacity.” [at para 20]

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.