Lawyer fined for impersonating wife in divorce case

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Woman returned wedding ring to husband / Shutterstock

A Surrey lawyer has been fined more than $11,000 for impersonating a woman in a divorce case while obtaining a credit report for the husband.

The March 19 decision by the Law Society of British Columbia said lawyer Kevin J. Groves, acting for the husband (called only JR in the decision) in January 2017, asked if the man wanted a credit report on his wife (called NR) as confirmation of financial information provided in the divorce proceedings.

JR agreed and Groves logged onto the Equifax credit reporting service.

With the husband’s help, Groves “completed a request for a credit report on NR by impersonating NR while responding to various questions posed on the interactive Equifax website. JR had the necessary familiarity with the financial affairs of NR to facilitate the impersonation of NR.”

The wife found out about the impersonation and reported her husband to the RCMP and Groves to the society that regulates B.C. lawyers.

Groves said he did it because he didn’t believe NR would provide the information and that a court order would have been needed to obtain it.

He admitted he had done the same thing in five other situations without objections from opposing parties.

The decision said the actions violate both B.C.’s Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and Legal Profession Act.

Groves admitted his actions but said he was not aware they were unlawful.

The lawyer said he believed obtaining the report was similar to getting information from Personal Property Security Registry or the Land Title Office.

When requesting an Equifax credit report, a service user must accept and agree to the terms of use and privacy policy, the decision said.

Groves said he had done that but did not believe he had ever read the terms.

However, Equifax then asks some questions for identification verification – which Groves did with JR’s help.

Groves did contact NR’s lawyer and admitted what he had done, and offered the information.

Groves was fined $8,000 for professional misconduct and assessed $3,607 in costs. He was also ordered to enrol in professional development work with a focus on ethical considerations.