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North Vancouver cellphone scammer dials up probation

North Van fraudster sold fake mobile phones on Craigslist; buyers out between $750 and $1,500
fake cell phone
North Vancouver RCMP have warned fake cellphones sold in online marketplaces like Craigslist can appear realistic. A North Van man was sentenced in court to two years' probation for defrauding five customers with phoney mobiles. photo NV RCMP

A North Vancouver man who scammed several people out of over $5,000 total by selling them fake cellphones has been given a conditional discharge – meaning he will not be left a criminal record – and has been put on probation for two years.

Jesse Sailer, 26, was also ordered by a North Vancouver provincial court judge to pay back the people he defrauded within two years.

Sailer pleaded guilty in court to five counts of fraud, beginning May 23, 2018 and ending Jan. 4, 2019, all in North Vancouver.

Sailer’s scam involved buying fake smartphones “in that they didn’t work or weren’t the brand they said they were” online, said Crown prosecutor Ariana Ward, then reselling them on Craigslist to unsuspecting buyers.

“Once that person went home and opened up the package, that person would find that the phone wasn’t working or actually what they purchased,” said Ward.

All the frauds followed a similar pattern.

Those scammed by Sailer lost between $750 and $1,500 each.

North Vancouver RCMP said in an earlier press statement they had received a number of reports of people who had unwittingly bought fake phones. In many cases, the phones were extremely realistic looking, said police, and appeared to come with authentic-looking packaging and components.

In March 2019, police executed a search warrant at Sailer’s home and seized seven fake phones.

Andrew Bonfield, Sailer’s defence lawyer, said Sailer’s Asperger’s syndrome played a part in the situation.

Some people with the particular type of autism spectrum disorder easily get pulled into schemes by others” and that may have been what happened in this case, said Bonfield.

Bonfield said Sailer does have some ability to pay back the money but it will take some time.

While on probation, Sailer must retain the Internet browsing history of any electronic device he has that is capable of connecting online and must show that device to a police officer if requested. Sailer is also forbidden from installing applications or platforms that automatically delete messages.