B.C. judge doesn't bet on sugar daddy story in $200,000 fraud case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. judge doesn't bet on sugar daddy story in $200,000 fraud case

September 06, 2019 - 1:30 PM

A 29-year-old B.C. mother went bust after a failed attempt to convince a judge that she was deceived into fraudulently withdrawing nearly $200,000 from multiple credit cards at various casinos across Western Canada by her online sugar daddy.

Jennifer Yvonne Thompson, an employee at a Lower Mainland pre-school daycare centre, was found guilty of seven counts of fraud by provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout in Abbotsford Tuesday, Sept. 3. Thompson was originally charged with eight fraud-related offences involving five credit cards issued by TD Bank between November 2015 and March 2016. The bank’s total losses relating to Thompson was $195,058.67.

According to the provincial court judgement, Thompson was accused of being added to five separate credit cards as a secondary user with the assistance of an unidentified co-accomplice. After obtaining access to the cards, court heard that Thompson would receive large cash advances at various casinos, currency exchange vendors and ATMs.

Thompson, however, claimed that these credit cards were all authorized by an online sugar daddy.

“From mid-2015 until mid-2016, her primary source of income was through social assistance. It was also in this timeframe that she decided to make some ‘extra money’ by hopefully meeting a man of means on an online dating service called sugardaddy.com,” Judge Rideout said in his judgement.

According to court documents, Thompson said she met a man named Warren, whom she described as “basically a wealthy man, he owned a business, he was from Alberta, he was married.” Under direct examination, Thompson said their relationship lasted approximately eight months. They communicated online and by telephone, but had never met in person despite plans to do so.

Thompson said she gave the man her personal information to be added to his cards and was instructed to use the cards at casinos.

“Because he gambled, so, typically, his wife would not see it as any other unordinary expense coming off of his credit card. He would be able to put it back, he did gamble, it was just – and the bank didn’t carry that amount of cash to a walk-in customer versus the casino having a better cash flow,” Thompson replied, noting that the money was to be used for airfare, gambling and hotel expenses for the pair.

On one occasion, Thompson said she was instructed by Warren to pick up a TD-issued credit card. After activating her new card, Thompson went to the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver where the pair had intended to meet. However,  Warren claimed to be delayed and unable to visit. Thompson received a cash advance of $19,570 at the casino and played $100 on the roulette table before leaving. Thompson said she was instructed to mail the money back to Warren’s PO Box in Alberta and claims she kept “maybe $1,000" for herself. Thompson said she was instructed to dispose of the card on that and all other occasions.

A separate incident had Thompson withdraw cash advances from several casinos in Edmonton and Calgary. Over two days, Thompson withdrew more than $130,000 from five different casinos at the request of Warren.

“The accused testified that although Warren had failed to show for a date with her on two prior occasions, she remains confident that they would get together in Alberta. She trusted his word,” Judge Rideout wrote.

According to Crown Prosecutor Christina Godlewska, the sugar daddy story was forged and her denial that she was knowingly engaged in a credit card scheme is unlikely. The Crown’s position is that Thompson was either aware of the fraudulent activity or “willfully blind.”

Multiple red flags – including requests to mail large amounts of cash to a PO Box in Alberta, a police investigation of one of the credit cards she was using at the Starlight Casino, several failed transactions, picking up the cards at different TD branches, the minor changes to her name and personal information on each card, the destroying of each card after use and Warren’s constant excuses to why they couldn’t meet – should have alerted Thompson to the fraudulent activity, the Crown said.

Thompson was unable to produce any record of contact between herself and Warren to substantiate her claims that he was her sugar daddy, according to the Crown.

“The Crown says that it is implausible that the accused would provide her name, address, date of birth and telephone number and be set up as a secondary credit card user on the account of an individual that she never laid eyes upon, for the purpose of being paid an allowance for romantic services never provided, and not have any suspicions that she might be engaged in fraudulent activity,” Judge Rideout said in his reasons for judgement.

Molly Shamess, Thompson’s defence lawyer, said that Thompson was duped into the fraudulent activity by Warren.

“The accused submitted that she trusted Warren, and that if she thought something was strange or suspicious with respect to the various TD Visa credit cards issued to her as a secondary user, at most any suspicion would amount to no more than a mere possibility of a fraud taking place, which is not sufficient for a finding of willful blindness,” the judgement reads.

Thompson said that she believed she would eventually meet Warren, despite his excuses and was not concerned when she was asked to send the cash via mail. She also made no attempts to hide her identity from security cameras in either the banks, casinos or airports.

However, Judge Rideout disagreed.

“I do not find that the accused was willfully blind. She knew exactly what she was doing,” Judge Rideout said in his judgement. “There were certainly others involved in this fraud, but she was a necessary link in perpetrating the fraud as an active participant."

Thompson now awaits sentencing on seven counts of fraud-related charges.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Parker Crook or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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