Burnaby auto mechanic posed as UBC dental student to get $350K line of credit: Crown

Mechanic posed as student

A Burnaby auto mechanic who pretended to be a UBC dentistry student to secure a $350,000 student line of credit has been handed an eight-month conditional sentence with house arrest and an order to pay back nearly $30,000.

On Nov. 6, 2019, Alberto Cuellar Ojeda, 30, walked into a Royal Bank in Burnaby and applied for a $350,000 student line of credit available to students in medical and dental school.

To support his application, he presented what looked like a letter from an associate vice-president at UBC saying he was enrolled in the doctorate dental medicine program.

"This letter was a forged document. Mr. Cuellar Ojeda was not and never had been enrolled in that program," Crown prosecutor Christina Galbraith told a Vancouver provincial court judge during Cuellar Ojeda's sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Nonetheless, Galbraith said Cuellar Ojeda got the line of credit and withdrew $30,000 between Nov. 28, 2019 and Feb. 3, 2020.  

It took nearly three years for the law to catch up with him, but Cuellar Ojeda was charged in August 2023 with one count of fraud and one count of using a forged document.

He pleaded guilty Wednesday to using the forged letter. The fraud charge was stayed.

In a joint sentencing submission, Galbraith and defence lawyer Joel Whysall called for an eight-month conditional sentence with house arrest, 10 hours of community work and an order to pay RBC back $29,167.09.

(Some of the money had already been repaid.)

B.C. provincial court Judge Nancy Adams imposed the proposed sentence.

She said forged documents are "always distasteful" and Cuellar Ojeda had paid back only a fraction of the money he withdrew.

"You shouldn't get the benefit of that money from the forged letter that you passed," Adams said.

As points in his favour, however, Adams noted Cuellar Ojeda had no criminal record, he had pleaded guilty and he was taking responsibility for his actions.

Cuellar Ojeda was born in raised in Mexico but became a permanent resident of Canada in 2019, according to Whysall.

His criminal conviction will make him inadmissible to Canada, Whysall said, and he will have to apply to remain on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

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