Accused benefitted from fraudulent payments by 'manipulating' data, says RCMP
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has arrested a former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employee for allegedly manipulating the system to receive COVID-19 benefits from the government while still employed.
The RCMP's Provincial Financial Crime Team has charged 39-year-old Melissa Jensen Webb – a resident of Dawson City in Yukon – after she allegedly embezzled nearly $20,000 in Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) payments while she was a full-time employee of the CRA in Alberta.
"The act of accessing and altering data on any internal database is an extreme abuse of one's position,” said Sgt. John Lamming, of the Provincial Financial Crime Team. “By manipulating these systems, the accused personally benefitted from fraudulent payments.”
In July, CRA said that it fired 20 of its employees for claiming COVID-19 benefits while still working at the tax authority. In March, CRA informed members of parliament in a written update that it suspected 10 of its roughly 42,000 employees had received CERB payments while under the CRA employ.
In February, the federal government also said it fired 49 public workers who allegedly claimed CERB payments while they were still employed by Ottawa.
Violations of Criminal Code
The RCMP initiated an investigation after the CRA referred a file relating to Jensen Webb’s case to the mounties.
The RCMP issued a warrant of arrest for Webb in July and arrested her on Aug. 10. Jensen Webb was charged with:
- fraud over $5,000 contrary to section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code
- possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 contrary to section 355(a) of the Criminal Code
- mischief in relation to computer data contrary to section 430(5) of the Criminal Code
- unauthorized use of computer to commit fraud contrary to section 342.1 of the Criminal Code (x2)
- breach of trust by a public officer contrary to section 122 of the Criminal Code (x2)
- offence with respect to confidential information contrary to section 239(2.2)(a) of the Income Tax Act.
The accused is scheduled to appear in Stony Plain Provincial Court on Sept. 20, 2023.
In May 2022, the CRA issued Notices of Redetermination (NoRs) to individuals who received CERB payments but were not eligible for it, so they could repay them.