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How ‘Pierre Poutine’ covered his tracks

Text: Glen McGregor. Presentation: Robert Cross. The Ottawa Citizen

Robert Cross

on 9 October 2015

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Transcript of How ‘Pierre Poutine’ covered his tracks

Whoever sent out a deceptive robocall in Guelph on the day of the 2011 federal election took care to cover his tracks, using two false names, two false addresses, an untraceable email account, a dead-end Paypal account, a “burner” cell phone, pre-paid credit cards and a proxy server to hide his computer’s IP address.
Someone goes to a Guelph convenience store and buys a pre-paid Virgin Mobile cell phone with the number
April 30:
The Robocall trail
Elections Canada has been on his trail ever since.
At 8:48 p.m., the phone is electronically registered to a “Pierre Poutine” of Separatist Avenue, Joliette, Quebec.
About 10 minutes later, someone calling himself Pierre Jones calls Edmonton voice-broadcasting company RackNine and speaks to owner Matt Meier, at left. The caller says he has been referred by a Conservative, a name Meier has not publicly revealed.
“Jones” tells Meier he’s a University of Ottawa student...
...provides a non-existent street address in Joliette, and a Google email address: pierres1630@gmail.com.
Meier sets up a RackNine account for “Jones”.
May 1:
Someone goes to two Guelph Shoppers Drug Mart locations and buys four Vanilla MasterCard and Visa gift cards worth $460.
Poutine uses the gift cards to transfer money to a PayPal account. Starting at 3:22 p.m., Poutine makes three payments to RackNine totalling $193.29. He uses the Pierre Jones email address, and hides his computer IP address by using a proxy server in Saskatchewan.
Poutine makes seven calls to RackNine’s voice-prompt system and logs into his account through the company’s web site 13 times. He uploads an electronic file containing 6,737 telephone numbers, then uploads a second version of the list with one extra number: his own burner cellphone.
Poutine also uploads two voice recordings. One is a call pretending to come from Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote. The call is scheduled to go out sometime time at night -- presumably designed to irritate Liberal supporters -- but is later cancelled. The other is a fake Elections Canada call telling voters their polling location had changed and directing them to the Quebec Street Mall in downtown Guelph.
May 2:
Election Day
At 10:03 a.m., the first of 7,676 robocalls is sent out, mostly to voters in Guelph but some in other ridings around the province. The last of the calls is sent at 10:14 a.m.
Throughout the morning, hundreds of voters turn up at the Quebec Street Mall to learn they’ve been sent to the wrong location. Some tear up their voter cards in frustration.
Poutine logs into RackNine from a Rogers IP address in Guelph shortly after 4 a.m.
At 9:30, the polls open in Guelph.
Elections Canada begins investigating immediately.
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Text: Glen McGregor, Stephen Maher
Presentation: Robert Cross
The Ottawa Citizen
Full transcript