A woman who fraudulently withdrew almost $200,000 from casinos and ATMs across B.C. and Alberta could not convince a judge she believed she was the mistress of an elusive millionaire.
Jennifer Yvonne Thompson was convicted of seven out of eight fraud-related charges by Judge Gregory Rideout in B.C. Provincial Court in Abbotford on Sept. 3.
Between November 2015 and March of 2016, Thompson received five different Visa credit cards, registered to addresses in Surrey and Langley, which a male accomplice had convinced TD bank to create for her as a secondary user on the accounts of innocent victims.
Thompson then used the credit cards at casinos around Vancouver and New Westminster, in Alberta, at various ATMs, and at a currency exchange at Vancouver International Airport.
In all, over five months she withdrew $195,058.67, much of it in amounts of $20,000 or more from casinos.
Thompson, a 29-year-old who works at a daycare centre, said she was on social assistance during the period in which the scams took place.
She testified at trial that she decided to make some “extra money” by signing up with Sugardaddy.com, a website that links up women with wealthier men who provide them with gifts in exchange for a romantic or sexual relationship.
Thompson claimed this led to an eight-month online relationship with a man named “Warren,” allegedly a wealthy married businessman from Alberta, whom she never actually met in person.
In Thompson’s telling, Warren proposed to send her money by adding her as a user on her credit card, and she would then take out cash advances at casinos to receive money.
“Because he gambled, so, typically, his wife would not see it as any other unordinary expense coming off of his credit card,” was the explanation Thompson gave the court for this arrangement.
Starting in December of 2015, Thompson received credit cards from local TD Bank branches.
With her first card, she got a cash advance of $19,570 from the Edgewater Casino. She played $100 on the roulette table and left after losing.
Thompson testified that she had intended to meet “Warren” but he couldn’t make it, and he told her to simply mail him most of the money, sending it to an Alberta post office box.
This pattern continued for several months, with Thompson testifying that she would get a new card, take out large amounts of cash at casinos, and then “Warren” would not show up, and she would mail him the bulk of the cash, keeping a few hundred or $1,000 for herself.
In January, she tore through a series of Edmonton and Calgary casinos, making large cash withdrawals at each of them. At one point, she had $130,000 in cash on her person, but she still never met “Warren” in person, instead mailing him the money.
Another credit card allowed her to scoop up more than $43,000 US from a currency exchange at the Vancouver International Airport.
She said she was instructed to throw away the credit cards after each spree of cash acquisition.
“She was unable to explain why it was necessary to throw a Visa card away because it had reached its card limit,” the judge wrote in his verdict.
The judge did not find much believable in Thompson’s story that she was an innocent dupe.
“The accused was unable to retrieve a single email, text message or phone record to corroborate her evidence with respect to the nature of her relationship with Warren,” Rideout noted, as pointed out by the prosecution.
The judge described parts of Thompson’s testimony as “absurd.”
“I find it was not romance that motivated the accused to go to Alberta,” Rideout wrote. “The motivating force was money. it was always about the money.”
Thompson has not yet been sentenced.