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In today's Morning Brief, one woman shares how she was taken in by an elaborate wire transfer scheme.

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Should banks be doing more to look for signs of wire fraud?

In 2018, Canadians lost nearly $48 million to wire fraud. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received nearly 1,100 reports of such scams.

Vivien Zheng was one of the people who lost her family's life savings to fraudsters that year.

It started with a phone call from someone claiming to work at the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver. She read off Zheng's driver's licence number, and told her she was a suspect in an international money-laundering scam.

"I was very surprised she had my driver's licence number, because it was only one month old," Zheng told CBC's Go Public. "I was scared to death."

WATCH | 'I was scared to death,' Zheng says:

'I was scared to death'

9 days ago


The fraudsters convinced Zheng, 43, to wire transfer nearly $340,000 through four different banks. Financial fraud expert Vanessa Iafoll said the sheer size of those wire transfers should have prompted the banks' front-line staff to ask more questions. 

"They're  the last line of defence," said Iafolla, an assistant professor of criminology at St. Mary's University in Halifax. "A secondary check … would go a long way to protecting people."

The banks said their tellers asked Zheng what her relationship to the recipient was. Zheng said she was instructed by the fraudsters to say she was sending the money to a family member or business associate.

The U.K. brought in new rules five years ago to help protect people, including new immigrants, from this type of fraud. Bank staff there are now trained to detect the warning signs of someone being scammed. Read more on this story here.

Customs, baggage, COVID-19 test ...

(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Health-care workers wait for airline passengers at a COVID-19 testing centre at Trudeau Airport in Montreal last Friday. The federal government has announced which hotels will be used for air travellers entering Canada, who now must quarantine for at least three days.

In brief

A student at the University of British Columbia said she was certain she wanted to pursue charges after she caught a man filming her in a bathroom on campus. But then, she said, the investigating RCMP officer talked her out of it. She said the officer spoke at length about the suspect's "good values," his long-term girlfriend, his standing as an engineering student and how he'd never be able to get a job. It turns out, the suspect had confessed to filming women on campus "five or six" times before. Read why sexual violence experts say they're not surprised by the police response.  

It was a deadly car crash that killed two people at a crosswalk in Calgary. The driver of the Volkswagen Jetta told a police officer he'd been speeding, he drank 12 ounces of alcohol and was worried he'd go to jail for drunk driving. But police didn't get a breath or blood sample and charges were never laid. Now, nearly nine years later, three of the investigating officers have been ordered to a disciplinary hearing, charged with neglect of duty and discreditable conduct under Alberta's Police Act. Read more about the victims of the crash, and what police are saying, here.  

Starting today, most air passengers entering Canada must comply with new travel measures, including a pricey hotel quarantine. Already some are complaining that they can't get through on the government phone line to book their hotel. There is no option to book online. Other travellers, including students and people who are returning home for work, have said they can't figure out if they're exempt from the rules. Read what we know about the hotel-quarantine process here.  

WATCH | Questions swirl over COVID-19 quarantine hotels:

Questions swirl over COVID-19 quarantine hotels

12 days ago

This week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce a new process to select a governor general to succeed Julie Payette. She resigned a month ago in the wake of a workplace review that found she presided over a "toxic" and "poisoned" workplace. President of the Queen's Privy Council, Dominic LeBlanc, said the government recognizes how important it is to choose "an outstanding Canadian" to fill the role. Read why the vetting process is expected to be more robust this time around.

One year ago this week, the world watched with alarm as 11 small towns in northern Italy shut themselves off to the rest of the world. Since then, close to 100,000 people in Italy have died from COVID-19, the most in the European Union. The vast majority of deaths were older people, and most of those men. But with almost half a million jobs lost in the past year, Italy's young people and women are also paying a steep price for the pandemic. Read how Italy is trying to kick-start its faltering economy here.  

Now for some good news to start your Monday: Victoria's Royal Roads University has a new scholarship for students of Afro-heritage descent. The annual $1,000 award was started by a recent graduate, Donneil McNab, who moved to Vancouver from Portmore, Jamaica two years ago. She said being one of the only Black students on campus was a culture shock. The scholarship "is my way of contributing to ongoing Black liberation and my way to help level the playing field," McNab said. McNab grew up in a single-parent household, and although resources were limited, she said her mother would often help others — paying their school fees, rent and medical bills. "I decided to take the leap because if she could do it, so could I," said McNab. Read more here.

Front Burner: How Bellingcat cracks some of the world's biggest stories

Investigative collective Bellingcat has broken some of the biggest stories of the past few years — including the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine. The group has cracked many of its cases using freely available information with the help of amateur internet sleuths.

Founder Eliot Higgins recently wrote We Are Bellingcat, a book about the collective's work. He joins us to explain how Bellingcat uncovered some of its biggest stories and why he thinks others should try their hand at it too.

Today in history: February 22

1851:  The Bytown Packet newspaper changes its name to the Ottawa Citizen.

1976: Joe Clark is elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada at age 36. 

2002: Hog farmer Robert Pickton is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of 50 women from Vancouver. 

2010: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capture Canada's first ever gold medal in ice dance at the Vancouver Olympics. At age 20 and 22 respectively, they become the youngest in Olympic history to win the gold in the discipline.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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