The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed on Feb. 14 that investigations are ongoing in regards to individuals who allegedly defrauded the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Cpl. Kim Chamberland, an RCMP spokesperson, told The Epoch Times that the RCMP has received fraud complaints from the Government of Canada concerning its Covid programs, but could not give further details due to the ongoing investigations.
This inquiry was prompted by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which reported losses related to 12,507 files due to suspected fraud, with payments linked to these files totalling $7,562,568. ESDC stated that it could not confirm whether a single person or group fraudulently received multiple payments, and all of these files were referred to the RCMP for investigation. ESDC also said that it could not confirm how many individuals have been criminally charged, as that is under the purview of the RCMP.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) also responded to this query, stating that it had implemented safeguards and additional controls to review the benefits applications, which prevented a “significant number of payments” from being sent. The CRA also said that it was difficult to isolate the number of identity thefts related to CERB applications alone, as the actors of fraudulent activities may have used an individual’s personal information to attempt to obtain payments for more than one type of COVID-19 benefit. The CRA said that if fraud is detected by legal authorities, it will take the appropriate measures to recover the funds.
Auditor General Karen Hogan released a report in December on the billions of dollars in funds that were misallocated through various federal pandemic support programs. This report stated that $4.6 billion in subsidies were provided to ineligible recipients, while another $27.4 billion in payments need further investigation. CRA said in a previous Inquiry of Ministry that as of March 31, 2022, $320 million had been spent on audits, investigations, and debt collection to recover the funds. CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton told a Commons committee that he believed the number of ineligible recipients flagged by Hogan was “significantly lower,” but questioned whether recouping the lost funds would be “worth the effort.” Peter Wilson contributed to this report.