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Fraudster admits to creating 'path of destruction and hurt'

Barrie's Terry Croteau, whose online marketing scheme raked in more than $1 million, to be sentenced April 27
2019-04-25 Courtroom RB 5
A look inside a Barrie courtroom. | Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday files

A Barrie man who has admitted to taking more than $1 million from clients in an online marketing scheme apologized to the court and his victims during his sentencing hearing today.

Terry Croteau pleaded guilty earlier to the criminal charges of fraud over $5,000 and uttering a forged document along with using deceptive telemarketing under the Competition Act. 

“It is true, I did do all of the offences,” Croteau said addressing the court on Friday. “I created a path of destruction and hurt and I affected people’s lives … and I have to live with that.

“I apologize ... (and) I accept responsibility for my actions," he added. 

Croteau said the true impact of his scheme hit home when he heard through the victim impact statements how his victims struggled to buy groceries and access child care.

In its annual report last fall, the Competition Bureau referred to the case as an example of efforts to crack down on those who use deceptive marketing to cheat Canadians out of their hard-earned money.

Croteau was accused of getting Canadian businesses to sign up for listings in online directories between 2012 and 2019. The scheme included the use of a letter claiming to be from a collection agency.

The investigation tapped into the Toronto Strategic Partnership, which co-ordinates enforcement activities and information-sharing around fraudulent, deceptive and misleading practices, and involved Ontario’s Serious Fraud Office, which was launched in 2018.

The defence and Crown submitted a joint submission on sentencing and are asking Justice Michelle Fuerst to impose a sentence of  30 months incarceration, restitution of nearly $1.3 million and a $12,461 fine.

Croteau returns to court April 27 for sentencing.