Half a million in gold bars. This is the money that Hardness Oppong pocketed from the back of a vulnerable old lady who had her life savings stolen. If the Torontonian hoped to get away with it again, he was instead sentenced Tuesday to a harsh sentence of two years in penitentiary.

“Illegal computer intrusions and email phishing attempts have become a scourge in our society,” said Judge Silvie Kovacevich on Tuesday at the Montreal courthouse.

Hardness Oppong seemed disconcerted as the judgment was read. The 41-year-old even interrupted the judge. “I thought I’d get a chance to speak. I’m very confused,” he said. “That was the last time. It’s too late,” the judge replied. The accused chose to remain silent during sentencing submissions.

The Ontarian pleaded guilty to one count of receiving stolen property last November. In practice, he only acknowledges having held the funds stolen from the victim, without being the author of the fraud.

The victim, Jessica Ann Rochester, had to sell the family home in 2018 when her husband was struck down by illness. After the sale, she asked her financial advisor to help her invest the $590,000. The next day, his advisor sent him an email telling him to transfer the funds into an account.

Hardness Oppong has allegedly been living below the poverty line for several years. However, he was able to pay $100,000 in a criminal case last year. According to court documents, he was charged in Ontario with defrauding the City of Burlington in 2019. A scam of $500,000. However, the charges were dropped by the prosecution after Mr. Oppong made restitution of $100,000.

Apart from the accused’s admission of guilt, few mitigating factors favored the accused. The aggravating factors were on the contrary very numerous, according to Judge Kovacevich: risk of reoffending, substantial amount, vulnerability of the victim, premeditation and lack of remorse.

The defence had tried to paint a very positive picture of the accused, emphasizing his involvement in the Ghanaian community in Toronto. Hardness Oppong organizes the GhanaFest festival, chairs the Ghanaian Canadian Multicultural Community Centre and runs nine non-profit organizations. However, it was through one of these organizations that the accused committed his crime, the judge noted.

Me Denis Trottier represented the public prosecutor, so Me Ferial Charef defended the offender.