It was announced on June 25 that Matthew Hovila of Edmonton was
convicted by a jury of engaging in criminal conduct under the
Competition Act arising from his operation of a website
Mr. Hovila operated online job opportunities scams through
oilcareer.com and governmentaljobs.com. According to press reports,
complaints were first received in 1999 and the Bureau commenced its
investigation of Mr. Hovila's businesses in 2000. The services
offered at these websites were described as "resume
The Commissioner alleged that false and misleading
representations were made to consumers with respect to the size and
scope of the business, the identity and number of potential
employers to which resumes were distributed, the relationship that
the websites enjoyed with the potential employers, a supposed
endorsement by an independent watchdog agency, the price at which
the services were ordinarily sold and the availability of either a
risk-free or money-back guaranty. Additionally, it was alleged that
there were numerous false consumer testimonials posted to these
websites. Mr. Hovila and his company, Strategic Ecomm Inc. and its
affiliates, agreed to a consent agreement in 2006. Pursuant to the
consent agreement, an administrative monetary penalty of $100,000
was paid, a corrective notice was to be published and future
Mr. Hovila continued his businesses after the consent agreement
was registered. In 2011, Mr. Hovila was arrested and charged with a
series of criminal offences alleging that his website businesses
were in contravention of the Competition Act and that his behaviour
was thus also in contravention of the registered consent agreement.
Mr. Hovila also faced charges relating to the possession of
property obtained by crime and the laundering of the proceeds of
After a jury trial, Mr. Hovila was convicted and could face a
fine in the discretion of the court and/or a prison term of up to
14 years for the advertising offences, as well as an unlimited fine
or a prison term of up to 5 years for the breach of the registered
consent agreement. This is the first conviction for the
contravention of a registered consent agreement. These charges for
non-compliance arose out of the Bureau's program of monitoring
compliance with registered consent agreements.
Mr. Hovila will be sentenced at a later date.
The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are
cautioned against making any decisions based on this material
alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.
The Commissioner of Competition addressed innovation, enforcement and policy initiatives at the Competition Bureau in his keynote speech, "Strengthening Competition: Innovation, Collaboration and Transparency."
Used car listing website operator CarGurus Inc.'s attempt to force rival Trader Corporation to supply it with vehicle listing data has encountered a dead end as the Competition Tribunal denied it leave to commence a private application under several provisions of the Competition Act.
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