Fraudster enrolled for PHD at Uvic under alias
A convicted fraudster, who used a fake name to land a government job, also got a master’s degree under the same alias from the University of Victoria, and is now enrolled in a PhD program at the school.
Richard Ernest Wainwright was sentenced to one year in prison and two years probation by a provincial court judge Friday, after being found guilty of forging a criminal record check as “Richard Perran” to hide his previous criminal convictions and land a government position.
Nonetheless, Wainwright has enrolled in a PhD program in UVic’s faculty of education, using the Perran surname.
And he completed a master’s degree in education from the university two years ago, also under the name Perran.
Wainwright’s jail sentence came with courtordered probation conditions that he not obtain educational degrees or certificates in other names.
That ruling throws into flux Wainwright’s UVic education. The case also raises questions about how the university was duped into awarding a master’s degree, and granting a PhD position, to a man using a fictitious identity. It’s unclear if his master’s degree even remains valid.
During his trial, the court heard Wainwright possessed numerous pieces of federal and provincial identification in both names, including driver’s licences and social insurance numbers.
But Perran is not his legal surname. It was his ex-partner’s surname. The court heard Perran never went through proper procedures in B.C. to legally change his name.
As Wainwright, he had a criminal history of fraud, theft, counterfeiting and unauthorized use of credit card data.
So, when he applied for a B.C. government job in 2006, he used the surname Perran on his criminal record check form, along with his Perran IDs, to produce a clean history.
Then, he altered the form to change the name to “Wainwright-Perran” and submitted it to government. He was fired from his job as a supervisor in the Ministry of Children and Family Development in 2008 after the fraud was discovered.
Before his termination, Wainwright received $7,986.43 in taxpayerfunded scholarship money from a program earmarked to help civil servants improve their education.
He used the money, under the name Perran, to take master’s degree courses in educational psychology and leadership studies. He graduated in 2010.
It’s not known to what extent UVic was aware of Wainwright’s dual identities.
It was suggested in court pre-sentencing documents that Wainwright had informed the university to some extent about his criminal charges, though the judge publicly questioned whether UVic knew Wainwright’s full history.
The university offered no immediate explanation as to how Wainwright made his way through the registration process without raising any red flags.
“The university will investigate and take action as appropriate,” said spokeswoman Denise Helm.
In general, having a criminal record does not preclude someone from enrolling in UVic, she said.
“The university takes allegations of misrepresentation very seriously,” said Helm.
UVic can’t comment on Wainwright’s PhD status, or what impact the conviction and court conditions could have on his educational future, due to privacy restrictions, she said.
Wainwright’s defence lawyer, Kirk Karaszkiewicz, had attempted to argue during trial that Wainwright had legally changed his surname by deed poll in the United Kingdom.
But Judge Loretta Chaperon noted Wainwright was charged, convicted and sentenced under his legal name of Wainwright.
The Wainwright case proved a major embarrassment for the government when it was uncovered by the Times Colonist in late 2009. It prompted two internal reviews and an overhaul of criminal record checks for civil servants.
When he was sentenced for fraud, Richard Wainwright was ordered by the judge to refrain from earning educational degrees under any other name.