On December 4, 2013, the Competition Bureau announced that Gilles Tremblay, a Quebec telemarketer, pleaded guilty to deceptive telemarketing under the Competition Act and fraud under the Criminal Code. As a result, Tremblay was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.
The guilty pleas arose out of Tremblay’s investment in a telemarketing scheme involving two operations in Montreal. Tremblay invested somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000 in the scheme and was involved in the financial management of some of the telemarketing activities. The scheme promoted “government grants” to American citizens and the sale of office supplies and medical kits to Canadian and American businesses utilizing allegedly misleading or fraudulent practices. The 2006 investigation was conducted by the Bureau in partnership with the Centre of Operations Linked to Telemarketing Fraud.
The imprisonment of Tremblay provides a useful reminder of the Bureau’s considerable power in investigating deceptive marketing practices. The Competition Act contains a provision that prohibits making materially false or misleading representations in promoting the supply or use of a product or business interest during interactive telephone communications (e.g., telemarketing). Contraventions of these provisions carry a maximum penalty on indictment of a fine in the discretion of the court, and/or up to 14 years imprisonment.