Vancouver – A scam targeting vulnerable seniors was exposed today by MLA Mable Elmore and MP Don Davies during a media availability in front of the Columbus Tower Seniors Residence in East Vancouver.
The scheme involves someone convincing seniors to give them their Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) so they can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) on the senior’s behalf. And in exchange, they charge the seniors up to $800 each.
“This is alarming news. Someone is taking advantage of vulnerable seniors under the guise of ‘helping them’ and it needs to stop,” says Vancouver MLA Mable Elmore, who explained the seniors are being misled into believing they are eligible for this federal government benefit. And in the process, the seniors are unwittingly committing fraud.
Eligible recipients of the CERB’s $2,000 monthly benefit are Canadian residents who were forced to stop working due to COVID-19. They must also be over 15 years of age, earned a minimum of $5,000 in the past year and will make less than $1,000 monthly while receiving the benefit.
“At best this is immoral, at worst illegal. We need to put an immediate stop to this scam that takes advantage of seniors,” said Don Davies, MP for Vancouver-Kingsway.
The federal government also announced they will take retroactive measures to identify cases of fraud and earlier this week, a new repayment option on the Canada Revenue Agency website was made available for those who need to repay the money they should not have received.
Elmore added they are also worried about how the seniors’ private information is falling into the wrong hands and opening them up to other cases of fraud and identity theft in the future. Along with their SIN numbers, the seniors are being told to hand over their bank account numbers, birth dates and other sensitive pieces of identification.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre states between March 6th and May 1st, there have been 766 reports of COVID-19 fraud with $1.2 million lost. If someone is a victim of fraud, they can contact their local police or report it online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
In the meantime, Elmore says the Vancouver Police Department is aware of the situation, and is looking into it.
And Don Davis is planning to take the matter to Ottawa.
“Because if there isn’t a clear prohibition against charging people to access this benefit, there ought to be. And I think we should call for that immediately.”