Evidence of fraud has come to light at Loto-Québec.
According to La Presse, Police believe a former employee gained access to player accounts through fraudulent means to embezzle money.
Martin Raymond, a 37-year-old computer analyst from Terrebonne, was charged with multiple offences on Wednesday at the Saint-Jérôme courthouse. The charges levied stem from an investigation by Quebec’s permanent anti-corruption unit (UPAC).
“Mr. Raymond worked at the online gambling call centre,” said Marisol Schnorr, head of public affairs at Loto-Québec.
Raymond faces accusations of breach of trust, fraud over $5,000 against Loto-Québec, and fraud over $5,000 against a player. He also faces charges of possession of personal information for criminal purposes and unauthorized use of a computer.
The breach of trust accusation includes “access to customer accounts and the fraudulent use of money.”
Although some evidence goes back as far as 2017, most stem from 2020.
The accused, represented by his lawyer, Christine Brosseau, was not in court. “We have no comment,” she said when asked about the charges.
Information currently available indicates Raymond may have compromised as many as 30 player accounts. However, the amount stolen is only slightly more than 20,000 Canadian dollars.
Some affected accounts had been inactive for years, allowing Raymond to move money around while avoiding attention.
The anti-corruption unit declined to discuss the case with La Presse, but court records show the investigation lasted for nearly a year. The police obtained a warrant to investigate Raymond in connection with the case on August 19, 2020.
According to the accused’s file, the criminal activity stopped the following day. Raymond had been with Loto-Québec until May 2020.
According to Loto-Québec, internal security services first detected the suspicious actions.
“The various control mechanisms and verification systems in place at Loto-Québec have made it possible to identify certain irregularities,” Schnorr said. “The police were contacted immediately.”
A Loto-Québec spokesperson said, in the end, “no customer was harmed.”
A popular espace
Loto-Québec’s website, Espacejeux, offers players several online gambling options. Each player must create an individual account verified by personal information.
Reports published recently in La Presse have noted a rise in online gambling since the pandemic hit. Espacejeux has seen player numbers increase by 132% over the past year.
According to a National Public Health Institute of Quebec survey, 20% of Quebecers have indulged in online gambling during the past year. For almost half, it was their first online gambling experience.