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COVID scams costing the feds millions

The CRA has refused to detail the scope of fraudulent payments at taxpayers’ expense under the $81.6 billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit program.

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Billions of dollars of federal cash floating around has seen an increase in government scams that has cost millions, said the Canada Revenue Agency in a report.

Blacklock’s Reporter said the CRA reported to reveal exactly how much has been lost.

“There has been an increase in recent years in government-related scams culminating this year following the introduction of COVID-19 related emergency programs to help Canadians through the pandemic,” said an Agency research paper.

“As a result a total of $1.8 million was lost to Covid-19 fraud over a single three-month period.”

The CRA has refused to detail the scope of fraudulent payments at taxpayers’ expense under the $81.6 billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit program.

“The Agency does not disclose details on suspicious activities,” spokesman Dany Morin said earlier.

“Releasing such information could provide insight on how to circumvent our compliance activities.”

The Senate national finance committee in a report last July 14 demanded to know how much was paid in fraudulent claims to applicants who sought $2,000-a month CERB cheques.

“The committee is concerned,” said the report.

The number of fake claims were so numerous the CRA offered free credit protection to any 2021 tax filer who discovers they were victimized by identity thieves.

“In addition, please be advised that individuals who make intentionally fraudulent claims for different COVID-related benefits will have to return payments received, and in some cases may also face additional consequences such as penalties or be convicted,” wrote the CRA.

“Where we are focused is organized crime,” Assistant Revenue Commissioner Ted Gallivan testified last June 11 at the Commons finance committee.

“We’ve heard reports of people who have gone into senior citizens’ homes and tried to take advantage of vulnerable Canadians in that way, making claims under those names.

“We have certain flags right now that are picking up claims that are saying, ‘Well, you’re applying for this program but just yesterday you changed your direct deposit information’. That seems suspicious.

“We have other situations where we find one (tax) practitioner who has 4,000 clients and 3,900 of their clients have all qualified for the program.

“Now, there could be an innocent explanation for that, but maybe not.”

“Do we know how many cases there are that are fraudulent?” asked Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis (Vimy, Que.).

“No,” replied Gallivan.

“I can tell you that four or five people that were already under criminal investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency and law enforcement for other reasons also chose to engage in CERB fraud,.

“In some cases, their communications are being intercepted, and that’s why we’re aware of it.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Joan Gordey

    March 19, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    I personally know 10+ people who applied for the CERB payments and who DID NOT QUALIFY…these are not people who were employed but the CERB payments did reduce the number of Break and Entries in my area…all the crooks and gangbangers were too wasted to go out and commit crimes. In my area the biggest winner was the man (and wife) who run the local drug ring (not cannabis but crack and meth). Thanks

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News

CRA wants more tax filers to use mail

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

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The taxman is angry that too many Canadians are still filing by mail, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

“Those who submit their taxes by mail most often say they use paper rather than filing electronically because it is simply how they prefer to do it, e.g. they do it out of habit, because ‘it’s what they are comfortable with,’ they like it, etcetera,” said a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) report.

“Just 13% cite security issues.”

Data show of 30.5 million tax returns filed this year a total 2.7 million or 9% were filed on paper. Millions of taxpayers, a total 4,234,772 including Internet filers, demanded refunds be paid by mailed cheque instead of direct deposit.

The CRA complained it would be “more timely and efficient” if all taxpayers used the Internet. The Agency spends $6.9 million annually mailing T1 general tax forms alone.

“There is still a sizable proportion of taxpayers who are conducting their business with the Canada Revenue Agency through paper rather than taking advantage of digital services which are much more timely and efficient,” said the report.

Research showed typical paper filers were working age men under 55 who completed their own return without a tax preparer, had a university degree, earned more than $80,000 a year and were more likely than other Canadians to prefer in-person teller service rather than online banking.

“The most important factor influencing why respondents file by paper instead of online is disinterest,” wrote researchers, who added: “Apathy is a barrier. Fifty percent of likely switchers say they are simply not interested in switching. Therefore the agency will have to demonstrate the value of switching.”

Findings were based on questionnaires with 2,000 taxpayers who filed returns by mail. The Agency paid Earnscliffe Strategy Group $130,061 for the survey.

The research follows a failed 2012 campaign to have all Canadians use direct deposit for payment of tax refunds and benefit cheques. The attempt by the Receiver General of Canada, the federal office responsible for processing payments, was intended to save costs. Paper cheques cost 82¢ apiece to process compared to 13¢ for electronic transfers, by official estimate.

An estimated 13% of taxpayers refused to surrender bank account information to the Receiver General. “Cheque recipients have become harder to engage,” said a 2020 Department of Public Works survey.

“A few have a general distrust of the Government of Canada’s ability to protect data,” wrote researchers. A total 23 percent of Atlantic residents said they wouldn’t rely on the government to protect their privacy, followed by 22% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 21% in Ontario, 19% in Alberta, 18% in BC and 12% in Québec.

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WATCH: Alberta Oil drives Guilbeault to meeting with Nixon

Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault’s tour of Alberta has already kicked off with a whiff of hypocrisy.

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Attended by a sizable entourage, Guilbeault exited his black gasoline-powered SUV and hustled into the McDougall Centre in Calgary for a meeting with Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon.  

Guilbeault has dedicated most of his career to telling Canadians they need to transition from petrochemically fueled transportation. During this meeting though, Guilbeault chose not to find an utilize an electric-powered SUV in order to demonstrate his environmental virtue. With the resources of the entire federal government behind him, one would have thought that Guilbeault could have arranged appropriate transportation for his cross-Canada tour.  

It’s almost as if electric vehicles are still not ready for mainstream use yet. 

At least Guilbeault contributed to the Western economy with his conspicuous consumption of local petrochemical products.  

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Officials urge booster injections to tackle lingering Delta variant amid Omicron craze

The WHO classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” however, the South African doctor who discovered Omicron in her patient says she is “stunned” by the response.

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The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now strongly urging COVID-19 booster injections for those over the age of 50.

In addition, the committee is now recommending boosters of an authorized mRNA vaccine to those 18-49 years of age at least six months after completion of a “primary COVID-19 vaccine series with consideration of jurisdictional and individual risks.”

The announcement comes amid global discussion of the Omicron variant. The federal government requested on Tuesday that NACI swiftly review its booster guidance in response to Omicron.

The NACI’s new booster recommendation, however, focuses on the lingering Delta variant while more details are gathered on Omicron.

On Nov. 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” although the South African doctor who discovered Omicron in her patient says she is “stunned” by the response.

“As chair of the South African Medical Association and a GP of 33 years standing, I have seen a lot over my medical career,” writes Dr. Angelique Coetzee, in an op-ed for the Daily Mail.

“But nothing has prepared me for the extraordinary global reaction that met my announcement this week that I had seen a young man in my surgery who had a case of COVID that turned out to be the Omicron variant.”

The young man was unaware he had contracted the virus.

Coetzee says she has seen nothing about the variant that warrants panic.

“No one here in South Africa is known to have been hospitalized with the Omicron variant, nor is anyone here believed to have fallen seriously ill with it,” writes Coetzee.

She also says the variant has been circulating South Africa for “some time.”

Viruses — such as COVID-19 — have their own DNA or RNA, therefore allowing them to mutate into new forms.

“This virus is going exactly how you’d expect,” Dr. Steven Pelech, chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee at the Canadian Covid Care Alliance, told the Western Standard.

“Strains are going to predominate which are more infectious and mild. That’s how it displaces other variants, it doesn’t kill the host. The host often doesn’t even know they are infected.”

Pelech — who is far from alone in his analysis — suggests the “variants of concern,” including Delta, are merely steps towards COVID-19 evolving into a common coronavirus. One that is highly infectious and exceedingly mild.

The Canadian government implemented additional travel restrictions in response to Omicron on November 30 — built upon previous measures.

“We know that these concerning mutations can arise and, where vaccinations are low in parts of the world, they can spread rapidly,” said BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Tuesday.

BC officials say the province will have more information on Omicron and its implications — such as vaccine efficacy — in the coming weeks.

“Isn’t this the same playbook we heard a year ago with the Delta variant?” said Pelech.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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