British Columbia

Call for tips after seniors allegedly scammed into committing CERB fraud

A federal benefit to help Canadians struggling to make ends meet due to COVID-19 is allegedly being used by scammers to bilk Vancouver seniors out of their savings.

Dozens of seniors have been targeted so far, says Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore

Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore says upset elderly citizens are purportedly being tricked into committing fraud by scammers offering to help them apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

A federal benefit intended to help struggling Canadians make ends meet is allegedly being used by scammers to bilk Vancouver seniors out of their savings.

Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore and Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies say dozens of elderly constituents have been targeted in the scheme, which sees the suspects offering to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on the senior's behalf.

The CERB is a $2,000 monthly benefit, designed to help Canadians who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elmore and Davies say the purported scammers are asking seniors for personal information, including social insurance numbers, in order to complete the CERB application in the seniors' name.

They then turn around and charge the seniors for services rendered, requesting cash payment of up to $800.

Elmore says, so far, the scammers appear to be targeting Filipino residents in the Columbus Tower Seniors Residence, as well as those living in a different retirement home in East Vancouver.

"It's just terrible," said Elmore "They don't understand that they're not eligible for this benefit and they're going to have to pay it back — and they've lost the 'fee,' which is also a lot of money".

While seniors are not specifically excluded from the CERB, the benefit is only available to people who have earned a minimum of $5,000 in the past year and who make less than $1,000 monthly while receiving it — requirements that would exclude many pensioners.

Elmore says she is also concerned that the seniors personal information has fallen into the wrong hands.

Vancouver police meanwhile confirm that they are investigating the reports coming out of Columbus Tower and are hoping the public will come forward with tips.

"This is a newer scam that we are noticing," said Sgt. Aaron Roed "Cases may be under-reported but we think more people may have been affected".

The VPD is asking anyone affected, or even contacted by the alleged scammers, to call their non-emergency line: 604-717-3321.



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