'Serial fraudster' scammed women out of cash with fake online profile, says N.S. judge

·3 min read
Tyler Fairrae mined details of another man's social media profiles, including photos, in order to create a new persona.  (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
Tyler Fairrae mined details of another man's social media profiles, including photos, in order to create a new persona. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

A Nova Scotia man who purported to be someone else on social media in order to befriend three women and swindle them out of thousands of dollars has been sentenced to 220 days in jail.

In a provincial court decision, Judge Ronda van der Hoek described Tyler Fairrae as a "serial fraudster whose actions are increasing in seriousness over time."

The decision said Fairrae, 26, stole details of another man's identity from social media profiles and used that new identity to connect with the three victims online in 2019.

Once Fairrae had established a level of trust with the women, the Annapolis Valley man told them he was stranded in Newfoundland and Labrador without access to his bank accounts.

"He asked the women to help him out of this untenable position by cashing a pay cheque or cheques and depositing the money into a specific bank account," said the decision released Tuesday.

"One woman later said she thought she was simply 'helping a new friend.'"

Women asked to deposit fraudulent cheques

Fairrae sent images of cheques to his victims, which the women were then able to deposit electronically into their own accounts before transferring the money to Fairrae's account. It wasn't long before their banks contacted the women to say the cheques had bounced.

According to the decision, one woman cashed more than 10 cheques over a week in May 2019 and lost over $5,000.

A second victim was initially reluctant to cash a $1,000 cheque from Fairrae until he threatened to report her to the police. She lost $1,000.

The third victim lost $772 when the cheque she deposited bounced.

Fairrae, who was arrested in November 2019, was on probation for previous offences when he passed the bad cheques. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

Fairrae remorseful for actions

According to the decision, Fairrae is remorseful and has accepted responsibility for his actions. It noted Fairrae's mental health issues and drug addiction are said to be contributing factors to his crimes.

The decision also said Fairrae, who is now sober, "is disgusted with himself and does not know how he can do these things."

"It must be an ongoing road to self-discovery because these things have been going on for some time," the judge's decision said.

Fairrae has several previous convictions, including fraud and uttering threats.

The Crown asked for an eight-month jail term, followed by 18 months probation. The defence was seeking a 12-month conditional sentence order.

In rendering the sentence, van der Hoek said she considered the impact of the offences on Fairrae's victims.

Impacts of 'well-orchestrated fraud' on victims

According to victim impact statements, one of his victims had to cash in an RRSP she'd been planning to use to buy a house in order to pay back the money from the bounced cheque. She's also facing tax implications from the missing money.

One victim sought counselling and said her hair fell out because of the financial stress.

"After considering and balancing the mitigating and the aggravating factors, I am left concluding Mr. Fairrae perpetrated a purposeful, well-orchestrated fraud on numerous victims that required time and attention on his part and a demonstrated lack of concern for his victims," the judge wrote in her decision.

In addition to the jail term, Fairrae will be placed on probation for 18 months. He's also been ordered to pay back the money he defrauded from the women.