Man facing more than 70 identity theft charges in Alberta arrested on 58 more charges in Saskatchewan

8 April 2015

James Donald Provost was not about to put an end to his identity theft and credit card fraud sprees, even after being released on bail for more than 70 charges in Alberta. The 38-year-old career criminal paid $5,000 to be released from an Alberta jail on October 31, 2014. From there, he immediately traveled to Regina, Saskatchewan, where he allegedly continued to steal credit cards and identity documents and use them for fraudulent purposes.

Provost, who has no fixed address, is thought to have traveled from Alberta to Saskatchewan in early November, ending up at a hotel in the Harbour Landing neighborhood of Regina. Using the hotel room as his home base, Provost targeted an area stretching from Hanbidge Crescent to Prince of Wales Drive, stealing residents’ mail in order to access their personal information, then using the information to create forged identity documents with specialized equipment. He forged a wide variety of these documents, including health cards, correctional service inmate cards and Indian status cards, then used these documents to apply for credit cards in the victims’ names.

After a consistent string of offences throughout November and December, Regina police were finally able to locate and arrest Provost on December 19. He is facing a lengthy list of 58 charges, including possession of stolen mail, possession of forged documents, fraudulent use of a counterfeit government seal, possession of currency obtained by crime and fraud under $5,000. This is on top of the 70 charges he still faces in Alberta, where he is due to appear in court later this year.

Regina resident Marino Vecchioli told the CBC that he discovered he had been the victim of identity theft when he was applying for a car loan. The required credit check turned up several credit card applications that Vecchioli hadn’t submitted. Shockingly, two of these applications were approved with only the name and address correct and the rest of the information fabricated. Vecchioli is still working with a credit agency to fix the damage these fraudulent applications did to his credit score. He was outraged to learn that the alleged perpetrator in his case had been released on bail for the same charges just a few months ago.

“It’s crazy to me. You know they’re going to do it again. Why would you give them $5,000 bail? Why would you give them bail at all? Keep the guy locked up and that way he can’t do what he is doing,” Vecchioli said to the CBC.

Garry Clement, former director of the RCMP’s proceeds of crime unit, told the CBC that sentences for so-called white collar crimes like fraud in Canada are “a borderline joke”. He argues that this leniency in sentencing makes credit fraud and identity theft attractive to organized crime, since the consequences are so small compared to the amount of money these crimes can bring in.

Provost seems to fit the description of the kind of criminals Clement fears. His arrest record dates back to the 1990s, and he is known to associate with other career criminals who specialize in fraud. In fact, Provost was arrested last March in Alberta with Brad Waselenchuk, one of the four people recently arrested in Regina in a separate credit card fraud scheme. These criminals share equipment and techniques, building skills to keep up with evolving anti-fraud techniques.

To detect identity theft and credit card fraud, sign up for a credit monitoring service. These services will alert you to certain types of activity on your credit file that can indicate fraud.