30 Months in jail and $1.28 million in restitution ordered in online business directories case
April 28, 2023 – GATINEAU, QC – Competition Bureau
Terry Croteau was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.28M in restitution for defrauding Canadian businesses in an online directory scam. On October 25, 2022, Mr. Croteau pleaded guilty in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to fraud over $5000, using a forged document, and deceptive telemarketing.
In addition to his sentence, Mr. Croteau must pay a fine in lieu of forfeiture of $12,466. The judge also issued an order prohibiting him from being involved in telemarketing or marketing by mail.
Mr. Croteau was sentenced under the Criminal Code for:
- soliciting businesses via mail notices that were false and misleading; and
- using a forged document, namely a letter claiming to be from a collection agency.
Mr. Croteau was also sentenced under the deceptive telemarketing provisions of the Competition Act for making misleading statements to promote his business directories. This includes, misrepresentations about the identity of the caller, the purpose of the call, and the price of the services offered.
Charges were laid against Mr. Croteau in June 2021 following a Competition Bureau investigation. The Bureau examined his use of deceptive telemarketing and false or misleading statements to get Canadian businesses to sign up for listings in online directories.
The investigation benefited from the collaborative work of the Toronto Strategic Partnership. The Partnership coordinates enforcement activities and information sharing regarding fraudulent, deceptive, and misleading practices across multiple jurisdictions. The Partnership includes law enforcement units such as the Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Ontario Provincial Police, the United States Federal Trade Commission, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
“I am very pleased with today’s sentencing decision. The fact that jail time is included sends a clear message that those who deceive or defraud businesses will face serious penalties. Cracking down on those who use deceptive marketing to cheat Canadians out of their hard-earned money continues to be a top priority for the Competition Bureau.”
Commissioner of Competition
The Competition Act prohibits companies and individuals from making false or misleading claims to promote a product, service or business interest.
Directory scams commonly target businesses across Canada and around the world. Fraudsters use misleading tactics to pressure businesses to pay for directory listings of little or no value.
Forfeiture occurs when a court is satisfied that property seized during a criminal investigation is proceeds of crime and orders it to be given up. A fine in lieu may be ordered when the court is satisfied that a forfeiture order should be made but is not in a position to do so.
We encourage anyone who suspects deceptive or anti-competitive activities to file a complaint with the Bureau by using our online form.
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The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that protects and promotes competition for the benefit of Canadian consumers and businesses. Competition drives lower prices and innovation while fueling economic growth.
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