Mr. Speaker, in considering this question, it is important to note that there may be legitimate reasons why multiple individuals may have used one bank account on their emergency benefit applications. This criteria in and of itself does not demonstrate suspicious nor fraudulent activity. While the CRA cannot disclose specific bank account verification procedures, a bank account is deemed acceptable to receive payments only if it meets specific validation criteria.
The CRA routinely monitors accounts for suspicious activity to detect, prevent and address potential instances of fraud, unauthorized use of stolen CRA user IDs and passwords, and unauthorized access to taxpayers’ accounts. The CRA combines advanced data analytics and business intelligence gathered from many sources, including law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and leads, to support these efforts.
As soon as the CRA becomes aware of an alleged incident of identity fraud or suspects an account could be the target of a fraudster, it takes immediate precautionary measures on the client’s account such as locking it to prevent transactions, conducting in-depth reviews and contacting the potential victims.
Where appropriate, the CRA works with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, CAFC, financial institutions and local police to investigate the incident. In some cases, the CRA will also provide the taxpayer with credit protection and monitoring services.
The CRA has robust systems and tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats, and to mitigate threats when they occur. Throughout the lifespan of the COVID-19 relief programs, the CRA has adapted and has introduced new measures and controls to address suspicious activity. Safeguards are embedded within the application processes to verify an applicant’s eligibility. The CRA has implemented additional controls requiring closer scrutiny of certain applications before they are processed.
With regard to part (a), the breadth of data to be analyzed to answer this question and the evolving nature over time of taxpayer direct deposit bank accounts would require extensive analysis that would not be possible to complete within the prescribed time frames under Standing Order 39(5)(a) and may yield inaccurate results; therefore, the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested. The CRA can confirm that, once a specific bank account is confirmed as being used for suspicious or fraudulent activities, a block is put in place to prevent future payments from being emitted to that account.
With regard to part (b)(i), establishing fraud is the outcome of investigative work and analysis. Each case must be reviewed and the investigative work concludes with a confirmation of the presence of unauthorized use of taxpayer information, fraud, or the case is determined not to be founded. As the CRA’s investigative work is still ongoing, it would be premature to confirm or comment on the number of fraud cases related to the COVID-19 economic relief measures or any amounts associated to them at this time.
With regard to part (b)(ii) and (iii), the CRA has controls to block suspicious applications meeting high-risk indicators from processing. Safeguards are embedded within the suite of COVID-19 relief programs application processes to stop the processing of questionable or suspicious applications until such time that the applicant has provided supporting documents to prove their identity and eligibility to prevent the issuance of unwarranted payments and to validate high-risk applications.
The CRA does not release specific information related to its review strategies, as releasing this information could jeopardize its compliance activities and the integrity of Canada’s tax system.
With regard to part (c), the breadth of data to be analyzed to answer this question and the evolving nature over time of taxpayer direct deposit bank accounts would require extensive analysis that would not be possible to complete within the prescribed time frames under Standing Order 39(5)(a) and may yield inaccurate results; therefore, the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested.
With regard to part (d), the criminal investigations program of the CRA is responsible for referring suspected fraud cases related to the COVID-19 relief programs to the RCMP.
With regard to part (e), in order to ensure the integrity of ongoing investigations, the CRA does not comment on or provide details on ongoing investigations or referrals tied to investigations.