Features | From Pivot Magazine

The most outlandish recent shams and scams 

A round-up of frauds, including a CRA hacker and a worker who tried to expense a live octopus

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Photo illustration of fireman spraying money out the fire-hoseAn Alberta firefighter nearly lost $18,000 after a hacker determined his social insurance number and gained access to his online CRA account (iStock)

$503,000

Amount that Burlington, Ont., lost to a phishing scam in May. Posing as a company that had done business with the municipality, a scammer convinced a city staffer to wire the amount to a phony bank account.

$999,000

Amount that a former Alberta police commission chairman was ordered to pay back after pleading guilty to defrauding the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education of nearly $1 million. Between 2010 and 2016, when he was the board’s technology director, he approved 203 invoices to a company he owned without the board’s knowledge.

$1.70

Hourly income that a Quebec lawyer claimed to earn from her part-time practice in 2012 and 2013. A tax court judge recently ruled that the suspiciously unprofitable gig seemed designed explicitly to let her write off personal expenses such as household utilities, cellphone and internet bills.

68%

Proportion of Canadian fraudsters who are men, according to MNP research on convictions between 2012 and 2018. On average, scams carried out by men were also worth four times more than female-led schemes.

$18,000

Value of a tax refund that an Alberta firefighter nearly lost after a hacker determined his social insurance number and gained access to his online CRA account. A CRA spokesperson said the breach was “extremely rare.”

LIVE OCTOPUS

One of the more bizarre items that Canadian workers tried to expense in the past three years, according to a survey of 300 CFOs by management consulting firm Robert Half. An ice cream mixer, hot-air balloon ride and a grass-eating-goats rental also made the list.

$1,600,000,000,000

Amount that Canadian companies transferred to low-tax countries in 2018, according to a new report by the parliamentary budget officer. As a result, the PBO estimates, the federal government lost out on $25 billion in tax revenue.

“I JUST KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG”

B.C. resident Suzi Peterson’s reaction when she saw an elderly man holding a stack of prepaid gift cards at her local Walmart. When she and store staff intervened, they learned that the man had (nearly) been duped by a bogus CRA call asking him to pay a large sum in gift cards or risk having his assets seized.