Organized crime bulked up with pandemic benefits – Report

Used stolen identities to apply for benefits; hired people to cash the cheques

It seems organized crime lined its pockets with pandemic benefits served up by the federal government.

CBC has seen a report from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

It says in the first few months of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program, criminal organizations filed multiple applications using stolen identities, Then hired groups of people to cash the benefit cheques at various locations.

 The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) was also tapped for funds. Applicants would transfer the $40,000 subsidy from their business accounts to personal accounts and withdraw the money in cash.

It’s not clear how much money was siphoned from either program.

The CERB program paid out more than $74 billion before the government transitioned to paying Canadians through employment insurance.

FINTRAC says that from the start of 2020, until Oct. 31 of this year, it received 30,095 suspicious transaction reports where COVID-related benefits were referenced. Many also dealt with human trafficking and drug offences.

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