The Toronto Police Service has arrested a Montreal woman who attempted to submit fraudulent Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) applications. It's alleged that the woman travelled to Toronto for the "sole purpose" of scamming the CERB by opening multiple bank accounts with fake identification. The accused, Karina Riel, is facing four counts including fraud, creation of forged documents, "possession of identity document," and impersonation.
"During the investigation officers seized counterfeit identification from the woman," the police wrote in a news release.
In recent days, reports have been emerging that identity thieves are targeting the CERB applications, prompting the Liberal government to consider imposing jail time and other penalties on those who commit fraud to obtain the benefit.
Some in the Liberal government contend that there would be "relatively few" instances of fraud under the CERB, according to CBC News.
Global News reported that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has identified potential fraudsters and has a handful of people under investigation.
While the Toronto Police Service is still investigating the crime, they ask that anyone with further information about the case or the accused contact 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
The CRA has established a snitch line where Canadians can report potential fraudsters.
0612 11:30 Woman Fc Fraud Chgs, Invst. Into Fraudulent Bank Accounts...Karina Riel, 40 https://t.co/rQlUK7c10m— Toronto Police (@Toronto Police) 1591975800.0
Since its introduction, the federal benefit has been immensely popular.
Its funding rose from an initial $35 billion to $60 billion.*
As of June 4, 2020, the Canadian government has processed over 15 million CERB applications.
A total of $43.51 billion has been given to Canadians by the program.
Reports indicate that the total cost of the COVID-19 pandemic aid packages in Canada is over $152.7 billion.
Fake websites related to #COVID19 are popping up daily. Cyber attackers are using these websites and are imitating… https://t.co/T00SkZVEpb— Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (@Canadian Centre for Cyber Security) 1586959514.0
Now, the government's challenge is catching those who take advantage of the program.