A former financial advisor with TD Bank was sentenced to 27 months in prison Wednesday after admitting to defrauding customers, including his own girlfriend, out of more than $400,000.
Mitchell Sumka, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud. His sentence includes an order prohibiting him from holding a job handling money for five years after his release from prison.
"Mitchell has an illness and the illness is gambling," defence lawyer Richard Wolson told provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs. "All the money that he had has been lost to his addiction."
Beginning in August 2015 and for the next 2 ½ years, Sumka employed an array of sophisticated schemes to cheat the bank and its customers, said Crown attorney Christina Kopynsky.
Sumka opened 192 bank accounts using fictitious profiles and forged documents and then drained each account of its $300 overdraft.
In a second fraud, Sumka opened an account in his then-girlfriend’s name and used it to make over 400 fraudulent transfers and withdrawals. Sumka also applied for a $20,000 loan in his girlfriend’s name for a car she already owned.
In his most ambitious scam, Sumka siphoned $400,000 from several customer accounts, repeatedly replacing the stolen money with money from other accounts to avoid detection. Victims described Sumka as friendly and likeable and "were all taken by surprise" Kopynsky said.
The bank launched an internal investigation and in February 2018 confronted Sumka, who told investigators he had spent the money on alcohol and gambling debts.
"He said the system was broken and there was no way he was the only one who had figured it out," Kopynsky said.
Sumka’s clean prior record and professional reputation was not to be considered a positive factor in sentencing as that was what allowed him to cheat the bank and its customers in the first place, Kopynsky said.
"He took advantage of the high regard with which he was held in the community," she said.
Since his arrest, Sumka has joined Gamblers Anonymous, undergone extensive counselling and volunteered over 100 hours with Siloam Mission and the Bear Clan, Wolson said.
"He has started on the road to rehabilitation," he said. "Mitchell has the ability to turn his life around and admit to his wrongdoing."
Unlike a drug addiction, the sway of a gambling addiction can be difficult for outside observers to fully appreciate, Heinrichs said.
"It’s an endless downward spiral," he said.
All of the bank’s customers have been reimbursed for their losses. Heinrichs ordered that Sumka pay the bank $470,000 in restitution.