Spread the love

Alleged victims of fraud feel left behind, but do Quebec police officers have all the tools?

Should Quebec take inspiration from France to combat online scams?

Open in full screen mode

Dany St-Pierre believes he was the victim of fraud by a car decal trader found on Facebook.

  • Natasha MacDonald-Dupuis (View profile)Natasha MacDonald-Dupuis

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text.

The sound of the engine of a Pontiac Trans Am bursts loudly against the sky, along a row near Rouyn-Noranda, announcing the arrival of Dany St-Pierre. He emerges from the vehicle all smiles.

When I&# When I was young, I wanted a straight one like that. And I have it today, dressed in the color it was in the movie Smokey and the Bandit.

A quote from Dany St-Pierre

Only downside: the eagle of the bodywork, the same one that adorned Burt Reynolds' vehicle in the film, is damaged. He says, with frustration now in his voice, he sent $320 to a merchant he found on Facebook to have it repaired, but to no avail.

Dany St-Pierre never received the decals.

He always had an excuse, that the printer was broken or that he had work to do in Ontario, he remembers.

Then, after weeks, the tone rose between Dany and the merchant in question: Sylvain Roy, of Fast Design in Drummondville.

Open in full screen mode

A photo published on Facebook by Sylvain Roy to promote its decal services.

I told him I would go to the police. He told me that the police would do nothing. Exasperated, Dany stormed off towards the Sûreté du Québec station to discover with amazement that Sylvain Roy was right.

The police didn't want to do anything. Dany had to insist that her complaint be received. Then it remained a dead letter. And he's not the only one.

The bill has contacted dozens of people who report, with supporting evidence, having paid between $40 and $1,000 over the years to Sylvain Roy for decal services on automobiles, boats and motor vehicles that& #x27;they say they never received them.

Others say they hired Sylvain Roy to install decals on their kitchen counters with the promise of restoring luster, but these would have peeled off almost immediately.

Open in full screen mode

A kitchen counter installed by Sylvain Roy from Fast Design.

Several filed complaints with the police. Some cases date back almost 20 years.

There are ways to go under the radar for a long time, explains the vice-dean at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sherbrooke, Simon Roy. Especially if the person does this in several regions, because the police don't necessarily talk to each other.

A case like Fast Design, however, should raise red flags, he says.

Where it gets more interesting for the prosecutor , this is when there is a pattern, therefore repetitions. For example, if you have someone who hasn't defrauded one person out of $1000, but has defrauded 10, 20, or 40 people.

The invoice could not determine whether an investigation was opened into Sylvain Roy, and the Sûreté du Quebec did not want to confirm or deny it.

It must be said that the DPCP especially prioritizes crimes against the person due to judicial delays. In the Sherbrooke court, for example, economic crimes were put on ice to give priority to these other crimes.

This is one less reason for Quebec police forces to be interested in it, especially since they do not systematically centralize complaints related to minor economic crimes.

France had the same problem. Its national police therefore created the Thésée platform, an online portal where all French victims of small scams on the web can file a complaint.

These reports are then collected by a special squad in order to quickly detect repeat offenders, explains the head of the French Central Office for the Fight against Crime, Cécile Augeraud.

Before Thésée, the police worked in a compartmentalized manner in each region, on each investigation. Often, the damage was so small that it was not worth opening an investigation, adds Ms. Augeraud, contacted in Paris.

Open in full screen mode

Cécile Augeraud, head of the Central Office of fight against information and communication technology crime of the National Police in France.

Launched in 2022, the platform has already collected more than 150,000 reports related to small frauds and has made it possible to condemn individuals who would normally have slipped through the cracks.

The problem with Internet scams is that we don't really know where they come from. We have victims everywhere on the national territory. So, once these complaints have been studied, they are cross-checked and it is this cross-checking that will allow an investigation to be opened.

Quebec police officers do not have this tool, which is considered very effective in France, and nothing is in the pipeline at the Ministry of Public Security.

The ministry is aware of the existence of this type of tool. That said, police forces already use several tools and mechanisms that make it possible to identify scams and fraud, writes a spokesperson by email.

However, Dany and other alleged victims of Sylvain Roy said that police officers told them that they were not investigating this type of crime and would have directed them to small claims.

I told them that I didn't even know his address! How do I send him a formal notice? Dany is indignant.

Meanwhile, Sylvain Roy continues his activities. He declined our request for an on-camera interview, but claimed on the phone that he was behind on his orders and intended to reimburse customers.

If they wait, they will get their money, but I can't do anything more at the moment, he said, admitting that he has blocked several dissatisfied customers on Facebook.

That's not all. The Fast Design company actually belongs to Sylvain Roy's former boss, and he uses this name without his consent. For lawyer Simon Roy, this is another element that should interest the police.

If I lie about the company that I own, or that I don't own, there it is, the lie! This is a piece of evidence that would be really interesting for the prosecution.

A quote from Simon Roy, vice-dean at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sherbrooke

Open in full screen mode

Simon Roy, vice-dean at the Faculty of Law of the University of Sherbrooke

Sylvain Roy would also have pocketed fictitious taxes under the name Fast Design. He did not want to explain on this point.

For her part, Dany has no hope to see the color of his money again. The amount he lost is not insignificant for him.

It's a child's registration for school, a grocery store for the week. It's making lunches for the children. With $320, you can do anything.

A quote from Dany St-Pierre

  • Natasha MacDonald-Dupuis (View profile)Natasha MacDonald-Dupuis Follow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116