VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Upwards of 100 seniors have been contacted by a scammer, trying to take advantage of them, and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The warning is coming from Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore, who says she was contacted Tuesday night by dozens of Seniors at the Columbus Building on Joyce.
“I was really angry and disappointed to hear that,” says Elmore. “I know a number of these seniors, they’re trusting, they’re elderly, and they’ve been deceived and taken advantage of.”
She says this scam could be very damaging for victims.
“They would have to re-pay the money, number one”, says Elmore. “And this person is charging a lot of money as their ‘commission’, so 10 per cent. If they get the full, four-months at 2,000 dollars a month, that’s 8,000 dollars and an 800-dollar commission, so the senior would have to pay all of that.”
Scammers are convincing seniors they can apply for CERB on their behalf if seniors hand over their Social Insurance Numbers. Once the SIN is given, seniors are charged up to $800.
Seniors are providing their private information because of the misled information, making them believe they are eligible for the federal government benefit.
Elmore says at least three people actually received the funds from the Federal Government. She says others from a building on East 3rd Avenue have also reported the scam, and she knows others will be coming forward.
“The problem is that we know that this person is reaching out and trying to identify more seniors”, says Elmore.
Elmore says Vancouver Police have been notified and are investigating, and posters are going up in buildings warning of the scam.
She also says NDP MP Don Davies is bringing forward a recommendation to prohibit people from profiting around applying for Federal benefits, as she says there isn’t an explicit prohibition on that right now.
Elmore explains it is also worrisome how the senior’s private information will possibly open them up to other cases of fraud and identity theft in the future.
Scammers have also requested bank account numbers, seniors’ birth dates and other sensitive identification pieces.
Those eligible for the monthly $2,000 CERB benefit are Canadian residents over 15-years-old who have been unable to work because of the virus.
If you are applying, you need to have earned a minimum of $5,000 in the past year. And when you are receiving the benefit, you must be making less than $1,000 a month.
“At best this is immoral, at worst illegal. We need to put an immediate stop to this scam that takes advantage of seniors,” Davies says.
This week, the federal government announced there will be subsequent measures made to identify fraud cases.
For Canadians who shouldn’t have received money, but did, a new repayment option on the Canada Revenue Agency website is now available to repay it back.
From March 6 to May 1, 766 fraud cases of COVID-19 fraud were reported and $1.2 million has been lost, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you are a victim of fraud, you can contact your local police or report it online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.