Charges laid against Vancouver serial con man targeting seniors

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Vancouver (January 16, 2020) – In collaboration, the North Vancouver RCMP and the West Vancouver Police Department laid 39 charges against Donald Robert Quinnell, a serial con man who is alleged of targeting ten seniors across the Lower Mainland between July and September 2019. Quinnell is accused of a series of thefts and confidence frauds which he accomplished by gaining his victim’s trust. Vancouver Police arrested him on September 12 on the basis of an outstanding unrelated Canada-wide warrant.

The 52-year-old Donald Robert Quinnell is accused of a series of thefts and frauds that victimized at least ten seniors across the Lower Mainland between July 2019 and August 2019. The man from Chilliwack allegedly defrauded multiple elderly people by gaining their trust conducting so-called confidence frauds. The North Vancouver RCMP and the West Vancouver Police Department announced that they laid charges against Quinnell in a joint press conference on January 14.

Serial con man targeting seniors

After a region-wide police hunt, the Vancouver Police Department arrested Quinnell already on September 12, 2019, on an outstanding Canada-wide warrant for Breach of Probation. He is held in custody since then.

A few days earlier, the police issued a public alert warning seniors of the con man. ‘It makes us angry that we have to tell the public they need to think twice before giving or accepting kindness from strangers,’ stated Sgt. DeVries of the North Vancouver RCMP in the public alert of September 5, 2019. ‘That’s not the kind of society we’re all trying to cultivate.’

His goal is to win the trust of his victims

In the public alert, police described Quinnell and his scheme ‘as a well-dressed, well-mannered man in his 40’s or 50’s. He approaches lone elderly people under the pretense of needing or offering help, and often targets his victims in grocery store parking lots or outside residences.’ Some victims described that he posed as a victim who locked out his keys out of his car and needs help. Others reported that he offered them help – for example with their grocery bags.

This way, Quinnell allegedly gained the trust of his victims and managed to work his way into the car or the home of his victim where he stole their wallets, purses, and other valuables. ‘Sometimes he plays the victim and other times the saviour,’ said Sgt. DeVries. ‘He convinces his victims to either give or receive kindness, which seems a very lovely thing. But then he uses their goodness as a distraction so he can steal their belongings. He gains trust so that he can betray it. It’s manipulative and deplorable.’

39 charges laid

On January 14, BC Prosecution Service has approved 39 charges against Quinnell. Nine charges for wallet and credit card thefts and the remaining 30 charges for frauds committed using those stolen credit cards at local stores.

North Vancouver RCMP collaborated with the West Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Police Department, and other agencies across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to capture Quinnell. ‘Serial criminals don’t care about jurisdiction boundaries. For this very reason, we work closely with police services throughout the Lower Mainland,’ assured Cst. Goodmurphy of the West Vancouver Police Department in the joint press conference.

Read more: Man arrested for allegedly defrauding elderly London woman out of $1.25M

Update (May 14, 2020): Donald Robert Quinnell pled guilty to 22 counts of fraud, and was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.