PEI

Former bank teller jailed for defrauding elderly customers, may face deportation

Vivek Vishisht, 29, of Charlottetown, took the money from the accounts of 16 bank customers, most of the them elderly. The 2018 Audi he purchased will be sold at auction. Vishisht could be deported to India after he serves his 6-month jail sentence.

Took a quarter of a million dollars, bought a luxury car

Vivek Vishisht enters Charlottetown Provincial Court Tuesday, where he was sentenced to six months in jail. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

A former Charlottetown bank teller who defrauded customers of a quarter of a million dollars was trying to support impoverished relatives overseas, according to his defence lawyer.

But the judge who sentenced Vivek Vishisht, 29, to six months in jail says the man's purchase of an $84,000 luxury car suggests self-interest played a role, too.

"That's double what I've ever paid for a car," said Judge John Douglas as he handed down sentence Tuesday in Charlottetown Provincial Court. "So there's clearly a personal gain factor."

Vishisht, of Charlottetown, had pleaded guilty to fraud leading up to Tuesday's sentencing.

Elderly customers targeted 

According to a statement of agreed facts, Vishisht was employed at the Toronto-Dominion Bank on Queen Street in Charlottetown when he committed the crime.

Vishishti spent more than $84,000 on this 2018 Audi. (Al MacCormick/CBC)

In April, an elderly customer contacted the manager because he had not received his monthly statement. The manager reviewed the account and discovered $5,000 missing.

The bank conducted a forensic audit and discovered Vishisht had defrauded 16 customers over a three-month period. Twelve of the 16 victims were elderly customers, and four accounts belonged to the estates of people who had recently died. 

He's not the only person who grew up poor. That's no excuse— Crown prosecutor Lisa Goulden

Vishisht had also created two fake bank accounts from which he had drawn bank drafts payable to himself. In total, $251,535.80 was missing. The TD Bank reimbursed all customers.

The investigation revealed Vishisht used about a third of the money — $84,059.80 — to buy a 2018 Audi.

Deportation a possibility after jail

Much of the legal argument at Tuesday's sentencing examined the possibility of Vishisht's deportation from Canada. He arrived in Canada from India in 2010. He became a permanent resident after moving to P.E.I. in 2016.

Vishisht was a teller at the TD Bank in Charlottetown where he defrauded 16 customers over a three-month period. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Crown prosecutor Lisa Goulden recommended a sentence of 12 to 15 months in jail. Such a lengthy sentence would have resulted in Vishisht's loss of the right to appeal any possible deportation order he might eventually face.

"A quarter-million dollars is large-scale fraud. Elderly clients were targeted ... He's not the only person who grew up poor. That's no excuse," Golden told court.

Defence lawyer Isaac Quinn suggested six months in jail, which would allow Vishisht to appeal deportation.

"He escaped abject poverty. He's been in Canada for one-third of his life. This is the country he knows," said Quinn.

'I'm ashamed'

Judge John Douglas sentenced him to six months in jail followed by six months house arrest as part of two years on probation.

"Low sentences can cause the public to lose confidence in the justice system," said Douglas. "But the immigration issues are of utmost concern in this case ... It's up to the [federal] Immigration Department to deport him or not."

"I'm sorry for what I did and I'm ashamed," said Vishisht, before sentence was handed down.

The judge has ordered Vishisht to repay the bank the quarter of a million dollars. The Audi will be sold at auction.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Higgins

Videojournalist

Brian Higgins joined CBC Prince Edward Island in 2002, following work in broadcasting, newspaper and magazine writing in central Canada. He follows law courts and justice issues on P.E.I., among other assignments.

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