When scammers prey on someone with autism for PKU

A Boucherville family, one of whose children has an autism spectrum disorder, says they have been living a “waking nightmare” for nine months, while one or more fraudsters have stolen their identity and have multiplied the requests Canadian Emergency Benefit (CEP).

• Read also: ECP fraud: nothing to reimburse for victims

Catherine Kozminski-Martin and her children, Maëlle (18), Maude (17) and Mathieu (15), have been trying to put an end to this ordeal since the spring.

The mother has had discussions in recent months with financial institutions, government agencies, lawyers, police, credit monitoring agencies Equifax and TransUnion and even, possibly, one of the fraudsters at origin of his problems.

Mme Kozminski claims to have spent “eight hours a day” in July to try to resolve this situation. Monday morning, she still had discussions with investigators at Service Canada.


Photo PIERRE-OLIVIER ZAPPA / VAT NEWS

Catherine Kozminski-Martin and her child Maëlle Adenot, who took part in the program Autiste, soon to be of age, have seen their identity stolen in recent months.

“It started when my second daughter received a letter in the mail with a PIN to access her online account at Service Canada to receive PKU. Subsequently, she received checks, ”she recounts.

After research, four of the five family members had suffered identity theft. Mme Kozminski puts the amounts of PKU claimed in his name at $ 12,000 and $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 for each of his children.

Fraudsters have also activated credit cards, notably at Capital One and Canadian Tire, activated a cell phone account, made several credit requests and opened a dozen bank accounts.

“It’s like a race against the horse to be able to quickly close accounts,” says Mme Kozminski.

Information in their files has also been changed, such as email, phone number, home address and occupation. For every change or closure of accounts, family members had to prove that they were not the scammers.

“When we say the 12 works of Asterix, I went through these 12 works eight to ten times,” illustrates the college professor. We have had frauds at Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency. These two services do not talk to each other, ”laments the one who monitors her credit rating every day.

More complicated

Among the victims, we find Maëlle, who is autistic. A bank account was opened in her name, and her home address and occupation – she was now employed at Apple – were changed in her records.

To complicate matters even more, Maëlle turned 18 on July 24. Mme Kozminski indicates that, according to Ottawa, it then became responsible for its files.

“Overnight, I couldn’t run his business anymore. She had to do it, laments the mother. It’s absurd, vulnerable people are not able to defend themselves, ”she emphasizes.

“At the end of her rope”, Mme Kozminski communicated with the new phone number in his information at Equifax during his inquiries. It was with a French-speaking man that the brief exchange took place.

“I asked to speak to Catherine Kozminski,” she said. It was pointed out to me that she was not present. The person wanted to take the message. […] It gave me shivers down my spine. She was very calm, ”she continues.

The latter refuses to throw stones at financial institutions for these identity thefts, she notes that several leaks of sensitive data have occurred in various organizations in recent years.

However, she is worried about the sums that will be lost by Ottawa given the increase in fraud, in particular concerning the PCU.

“Imagine what all this fraud will cost taxpayers,” she fears. How is it possible to raise so much money? ”

– With the collaboration of Pierre-Olivier Zappa

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