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Montreal woman arrested for alleged CERB fraud

Toronto (June 15, 2020) – The Toronto police arrested Karina Riel of Montreal on June 11 for allegedly opening assorted bank accounts in Toronto to defraud the CERB program. She is accused of using multiple identities to set up fraudulent bank accounts. The police charged her with multiple fraud-related charges. Police ask Canadian residents to ensure all information in their CRA accounts is accurate and that their passwords are secure.

Toronto police accused Karina Riel from Montreal of traveling to Toronto to open assorted bank accounts in order to fraudulently apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). According to a press release, the police arrested the Montreal woman and laid charges on June 11 as a result of a fraud investigation.

Identity theft and CERB fraud

Riel is accused of traveling to Toronto from Montreal for the sole purpose of fraudulently opening up various bank accounts. The 40-year-old woman allegedly attended multiple banks across Toronto with various identities to set up bank accounts. During their investigation, officers seized counterfeit identification from her.

The police believe she intended to use the numerous bank accounts under false names to make fraudulent CERB claims in the name of the stolen identities. The Canadian government established the CERB program to provide income support to employees who are directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fraudulent CERB applications

Fraudsters are using stolen identity information to access the online Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) accounts of their victims to apply for the CERB, Ottawa police said in a press release. They explained that rogues change the direct deposit information in the CRA online account of their victim to bank accounts they have opened in the name of the victim.

The Ottawa police said, that they are investigating numerous cases of fraudulent CERB applications using stolen identity information. As a consequence, they asked residents to log into their CRA online accounts to ensure all information is accurate and they have secure passwords.

Montreal woman arrested in fraud investigation

On June 11, Toronto police arrested Riel as a result of their investigation into the fraudulent bank accounts. She has been charged with Fraud Under $5,000, Utter Forged Document, Possession of Identity Document, and Impersonation. She was scheduled to appear in court on June 12.

The Toronto police reported that the investigation is currently ongoing and reminded the public and financial institutions to be vigilant at all times, and to report all suspected fraudulent account openings to the police. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Toronto police at 416-808-5200, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

The police reminded Canadian residents to use a password for their CRA online account, which is not used for any other account. People, who discover that their information in the CRA account has been changed or they are unable to access their account because the password has been changed, should contact the CRA immediately and are advised to obtain a credit check. In case, their direct deposit information has been changed, they should also contact the bank where the account was opened. Furthermore, if a cheque was issued in their name that they did not apply for, they should report it to the police.