Karolina Stulec, 43, was sentenced to a year’s probation for helping drain $22,000 from a stranger’s line of credit in 2019.
A 43-year-old woman who helped withdraw $22,000 from a stranger’s line of credit using a stolen debit card in Burnaby, Vancouver and Richmond says getting caught is a signal to alarm she needed to start fighting her drug addiction.
Karolina Stulec was charged with fraud over $5,000 and impersonation with intent to profit on January 25, 2021.
The charges relate to incidents that occurred in late 2019.
On Nov. 23, 2019, police received a report of a stolen wallet from a vehicle in Delta, according to Delta Police.
A Royal Bank of Canada debit card from that stolen wallet was later used in fraudulent ATM transactions in several Lower Mainland cities, a Delta police spokesperson told the NOW.
On Tuesday, Stulec pleaded guilty in Vancouver Provincial Court to the lesser charge of possessing a credit card knowing it was obtained by an infraction.
Crown prosecutor Ryan Elias said police caught up with Stulec after an investigation uncovered photographs of Stulec and another unidentified woman, who together withdrew a total of $22,000 with the card RBC.
“It wasn’t a sophisticated fraud,” Elias said. “Both women had (victim’s) PIN, although (victim) didn’t know how they could have gotten it, so they just went to ATMs and tellers and took out cash directly from the line of credit.
The victim was eventually “cured” by RBC, according to Elias.
In a joint sentencing submission, Elias and defense attorney Wesley Solmon requested a suspended sentence with one year probation.
“In my view, this sufficiently protects the public and reflects both the seriousness of the offence, giving her a criminal record, but also the progress she has made on her own initiative,” Elias said.
Elias said he told Stulec’s lawyers last summer that the Crown would seek jail time if Stulec didn’t “show real progress” in his recovery from his drug addiction.
“And she did,” Elias said.
Solmon presented a letter of commendation from the Elizabeth Fry Society, which said Stulec had been an “inspiration to other clients” during his three months of recovery with that organization.
Solmon said Stulec had worked as a peer support worker and wanted to continue to pursue that field and return to school.
He said Stulec, who had no criminal record, struggled with addiction on and off for about 20 years after falling into the “bad crowd” as a teenager.
Stulec told the court she was sorry for what she had done but said the experience had been “a bit like a blessing in disguise”.
“It took that to wake me up,” she said.
Judge Elisabeth Burgess accepted the joint submission and sentenced Stulec to a suspended sentence of one year probation, during which she must undergo drug treatment as instructed, not possess credit cards or coins identification that is not in his name and stay away from his victim.
Burgess said Stulec was enjoying a “significant break in his sentence”.
“But I’m convinced you’ve earned it,” Burgess said.