A young Montrealer who was caught two years ago operating a "credit-card factory" out of a rented downtown condo has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.
Kevin Guo, 22, pleaded guilty in April to 64 charges of stealing personal identification and credit-card fraud.
Provincial court Judge Mary Kate Harvie said evidence police obtained revealed Guo and his co-accused, Benjamin Harvey Langton, 28, likely would have continued their fraud across the country had Winnipeg police not caught them.
Guo was arrested Nov. 23, 2011 after he tried to use a fake credit card to buy a high-end camera at a Henry's camera store on Kenaston Boulevard. When police searched his rented condo, they found hundreds of blank credit cards, a thermal printer and hologram stickers of major credit-card companies.
On Guo's personal computer, police found credit-card information on more than 2,000 people plus personal identification from passports and drivers licences of more than 1,600 additional individuals.
At the sentencing hearing Monday, Harvie explained that Guo fell into the credit-card scheme after meeting Langton, a native of the United Kingdom, at a comic-book store in Montreal in August 2011. The pair purchased the credit card-information from another individual online and began a fraud spree across southern Ontario and Quebec, purchasing expensive cameras and equipment using faked credit cards, then selling the goods for cash.
They moved to Winnipeg in November 2011 and used a fake credit card to rent a new Mustang and a two-bedroom condo. But they were only able to victimize two local camera stores before alert staff at Henry's, who were aware of the duo's activities in Ontario, contacted Winnipeg police.
Harvie said a letter from Guo's father, referenced by defence counsel Len Tailleur, described Guo as a one-time excellent high school student who developed bad habits after he got interested in gaming.
After his arrest, Guo told police he quit business school because he was eager to make some fast money. "School didn't get me what I wanted," he told police. "It was a waste of time... I just wanted more money."
Harvie noted Guo was only 20 when he met Langton, whom she described as not only older but highly intelligent, sophisticated and worldly. Langton had similar convictions in Germany and San Diego before hooking up with Guo.
Langton was given a six-year sentence last year for his role.