A young man from Terrebonne used a “sophisticated” and “large-scale” fraud to steal from no less than 154 victims across Canada. He used information purchased on the Dark Web and a fraudulent exchange of SIM cards to access their emails and text messages. The amount of the scams amounts to nearly $700,000.

“These crimes had sometimes catastrophic personal consequences for more than a hundred identified victims,” is what we read in the decision recently rendered by Judge Marc-André Dagenais of the Court of Quebec. The 24-year-old offender was sentenced to four years in prison. He pleaded guilty to counts of fraud and mail theft.

The man, who is described in the judgment as the “central pivot of the functioning of a criminal group made up of twenty people” led “a large-scale, sophisticated fraudulent operation which exploits to their full potential the weaknesses of digital life modern “. The type of scam used allowed him to bypass two-factor authentication, a common cybersecurity practice, and gain access to victims’ accounts. He used these accounts to buy goods or food on platforms like Uber Eats.

According to the magistrate, Westerlin Jean-Pierre led a lifestyle “focused solely on the consumption of luxury goods”. Indeed, he drove a Mercedes, appeared publicly with wads of cash, and wore shoes worth thousands of dollars. He described himself at the time as an “influencer.”

He was able to live such a high lifestyle thanks to the hundreds of pieces of information he stole. He used victims’ credit card numbers to buy goods such as small household appliances and cell phones, and then resell them on the Internet.

It was between 2020 and 2021 that Westerlin Jean-Pierre made his victims, all over Canada. He was arrested red-handed in Ontario in 2021, then his Terrebonne residence was searched. The police found false identification documents and iPhones. He was also caught red-handed stealing mail in 2022.

“​​One [victim] had her bank accounts frozen after they were emptied.” This is just one of the many consequences mentioned in the judgment. Others also mentioned spending long weeks to minimize the effects of fraud.

Another victim, cited in the judgment, considers “that the fraud jeopardized the financial security that she sought to offer to her three children, depriving them of food and other basic necessities that they deserved “.

Companies have also been affected by fraud, and have indicated that they have implemented preventive measures to protect themselves from such crimes in the future.

To arrive at a sentence of 42 months in prison, the judge notably took into account as aggravating factors the sophisticated nature of the fraud, the quantity of people scammed and the “intrusive” nature of the scheme on the lives of the victims.

The court, however, attached limited importance to the regrets expressed by the offender towards the victims. “If he recognizes the actions taken, the offender tends to minimize them,” underlines the judge.

The latter also wanted to point out that the fact that it was a first offense was of “lesser importance”, since it was a case of fraud.