All Posts Tagged With: "Fraud"
Lawyer offers surprising revelation
The former Mount Royal University student president charged with robbing a Calgary bank last week has been granted bail, reports the Calgary Herald. Meghan Darcy Melnyk, 27, must live under house arrest with her aunt in Didsbury, Alta. until her next court appearance on March 16.
In a surprising twist, defense lawyer Derek Lovatt said that his client was under stress and suffering from a gambling addiction when she passed a Servus Credit Union teller a note indicating she was armed and demanding money. Melnyk allegedly took $6,180, but was quickly apprehended; an employee had noted her vehicle’s license plate number.
Melnyk also has pending charges for fraud under $5,000 involving a stolen purse and forged cheque, using a forged document, and breaching probation conditions. She has a 2008 conviction for vehicle theft and a 2010 conviction for attempting to falsely obtain a social insurance number.
After the bank robbery, MRU president David Docherty posted a statement on Facebook, which included this sentiment: “We do not know what drove Meghan to take this course of action; however, we hope she receives the help she needs for the issues that led her to this point.”
Melnyk resigned from the Students’ Association at Mount Royal University in January. Since the bank robbery, some MRU students expressed anger that no criminal record checks took place before she was charged with the $6.3-million budget. Some other student unions require criminal checks.
Strange apology inside
Some of the computer hardware stolen from the University of Victoria earlier this month was found by a postal worker in a letter box in Langford, B.C. Saanich Police say that all of the laptops and flash drives had been rendered inoperable, although a copy of the information was included, along with a note that police are calling “a strange twist.” CBC News reports that the note says the following: “The information in these bags was not copied, distributed or exploited” and “we want no part of everyday people living in fear that their personal information is being used against them to take [their] hard-earned money. Criminals are human before they were criminals.” The police are scratching their heads. “Whether it is simply altruism or regret on the part of the suspects or whether it is something more sinister, is unclear to investigators,” they wrote. The computer hardware contained the unencrypted banking information and the social insurance numbers of up to 13,000 current and former employees.
Some money repaid
A University of Alberta student allegedly embezzled $27,745 from the Business Students’ Association. Students in the Faculty of Business received an e-mail Monday informing them that it was possible because of a “bank error in setting up the ATM card privileges,” reports the Edmonton Journal. The e-mail also says “a significant portion” of the money has been repaid.
Stole $4,200 from school
A former University of Prince Edward Island student was sentenced Tuesday to one week in jail for stealing $4,200, reports CBC News. Steven Mitchell Colp worked as a room booker for the school. After he graduated, he still had access to the computerized booking system and he used it to request fake refunds that were credited to his own card. Colp is now a graduate student in psychology at the University of Calgary. He wept in court as he apologized for his crime.
Forensic accounting report completed in May
York University announced Thursday that there is an investigation underway that is probing potential fraud that may have occurred at the university between 2007 and early 2010.
York hired forensic accounting firm Navigant in 2009. ”At the end of May 2011, York received Navigant’s report, which outlined a number of irregularities,” York said in a statement. “The University immediately handed over the relevant materials to the Toronto Police Service.”
“York will not comment on any specifics regarding this case,” they added.
“Accomplishments” kept him out of jail: judge
A former student council president at the First Nations University of Canada in Saskatoon has been convicted of fraud and theft of $30,000.
Blue Pelletier, 31, repeatedly wrote himself cheques from the student union’s bank accounts in 2006 and 2007 and never accounted for the money. Three other members of the council testified that Pelletier had told them he had used the money to buy a car and furniture for himself.
But he won’t go to jail. Instead, he’ll serve an 18-month conditional sentence that includes a curfew and he’ll be required to pay $20,000 back to the student’s council, reports CBC News.
Judge Gerry Allbright said that although Blue Pelletier is guilty, he had accomplished so much in his life that it proved the fraud was “no doubt, in my mind, an aberration.” Had it been more than an aberration, he would have gone to jail, said the judge.
That’s despite the fact that Pelletier accused the other council members of lying and blamed the lack of records for the cheques on a “lackadaisical” style of accounting. He had pleaded not guilty.
Priest allegedly profited from illegal foreign workers
A former Lakeland College employee is under investigation by the RCMP in an alleged immigration scam, reports the Lloydminster Meridian Booster.
The RCMP’s Immigration and Passport Section charged three people June 13 with having illegally imported experienced welders to Canada from Poland and the Ukraine to work for Kihew Energy Services in St. Paul, Alta.
The 60 workers were enrolled in English as a Second Language or the welding program at Lakeland College, but few of them attended classes. Police are trying to determine whether a college employee falsified letters that were sent to immigration officials confirming the foreigners were legitimate students.
Police allege that Kihew made more than $1-million by contracting the men out to other companies and then pocketing much of their wages. The workers, who didn’t speak English, were instructed not to discuss their wages. Father John Lipinski, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest in St. Paul, his wife Angela Lipinski and Calvin Steinhauer of Goodfish Lake, Alta. are due in court on July 25.
Scam making the rounds at U of Waterloo
Earlier this week the Waterloo Regional Police issued a warning to students who are trying to sublet or rent off-campus housing, according to an article in The Record, after the fraud branch received reports of a scam that could rob students of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The fraud branch in Waterloo warns that the scam involved targeting students who posted rooms for rent on the University of Waterloo off-campus housing website, but the scam is apparently a common one, and police caution students to be suspicious of advanced payments in the form of a cheque which are larger than the agreed upon amount as it’s part of the scam. The cheques are fake, which means you will also lose any cash you’ve advanced them, thinking you’re ‘repaying’ them the difference.
“The bad guys come up with cheques that have some legitimate account numbers on it, though they’re not their numbers,” said Staff Sgt. Dale Roe of the Waterloo Regional Police fraud branch in The Record article. “That just takes more time for it to be caught in the banking system.”
The fraud branch in Waterloo can be reached at: 519-653-7700, ext. 8380.
Student who faked his way into university gets 10 years probation
A student who forged transcripts and letters of recommendation to get into Harvard University has plead guilty to charges of larceny and identify fraud. According to the Boston Globe Adam Wheeler “was arrested and indicted this spring on 20 counts after an investigation showed he had spent the last three years plagiarizing the writings of others while collecting awards for his academic prowess both at Harvard and, before that, at Bowdoin College in Maine.” When applying to Harvard he falsified grades and letters of recommendation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prestigious prep school despite never having attended either institution. He also claimed to speak Armenian fluently and to have published several books. Wheeler who says he is “ashamed and embarrassed” has been sentenced to 10 years probation and has been fined $45,800 by Middlesex Superior Court.
University to review hiring policy for adjuncts
Allegations that a former adjunct professor faked his credentials is leading the University of Victoria to review its hiring practices. It was reported yesterday that Jason Walker, who also had an administrative role with a Victoria area health clinic, was charged with “fraud, forgery and swearing a false affidavit for allegedly faking his credentials.” Walker has claimed he holds two doctoral degrees.
In 2006, Walker taught three undergraduate courses, and one graduate course at the University of Victoria. Although a PhD is a prerequisite for teaching graduate level classes, the university says there is no clear policy for hiring adjuncts. As the Times Colonist reports:
University policy requires professors to have a doctorate if they’re teaching a graduate course, [university spokeswoman] Patti Pitts said. But the requirements for part-time adjunct professors vary widely from one faculty to the next.
“Quite often, the appointment is based on the reputation of the individual, recommendations from other researchers, and the person’s ongoing affiliations with other institutions or organizations,” Pitts said.
A similarly laissez-faire attitude was taking by the health clinic Walker worked for, which says it saw no reason to verify his credentials because he was working in an administrative role:
Before hiring Walker, VIHA checked his employment references, but not his academic credentials, Marshall said.
“Credentials of potential employees in non-clinical and some mid-manager positions are not routinely verified,” she said. “Mr. Walker’s credentials were not verified as his responsibilities were of an administrative nature, and there was no indication that they needed to be verified.”
By contrast, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians must provide proof that they’re licensed and registered with one of the professional colleges.
If adjunct hiring is as spotty as suggested by this story, that is a pretty obvious policy change. Why wouldn’t universities have a formalized procedure for hiring casual faculty? They are taken to be experts in their fields, just like regular faculty, and they are responsible for using that expertise to transfer knowledge to students.
It is unnecessary to subject adjuncts to the sort of grueling hiring process tenure-track candidates go through, but a simple phone call to the institution where a prof. says he earned his doctorate would suffice. Relying on faculty recommendations alone is just lazy.
The Chronicle of Higher Education takes us inside an essay mill.
The Chronicle of Higher Education takes us inside an essay mill.
Are you a member of a Class of 2013 group? Better make sure it’s for real
According to this story by University Affairs deputy editor Léo Charbonneau, all of those “Class of…” groups on Facebook, where students can network, plan activities and share opinions, might not all be legit.
Most universities in Canada have these types of groups. For example, a student starting at Carleton University next fall might want to join the “Carleton University Class of 2014″ before they actually step foot on campus.
But this year, Charbonneau says there have been several cases where these groups, purportedly representing students from a particular university, have been found out as fakes. In the U.S., blogger Brad Ward warned faculty at other universities that Facebook groups were being appropriated by people who had never attended, and were not set to attend, the schools.
“Think of it…posing as an incoming student. Think of the data collection,” wrote Ward. “The opportunities down the road to push affiliate links. The opportunity to appear to be an ‘Admin’ of Your School Class of 2013. The chance to message alumni down the road. The list of possibilities goes on and on and on.”
The Canadian connection to the story beings with Matthew Melnyk, the electronic outreach liaison officer at Brock University’s recruitment and liaison office. Last February, according to Charbonneau, he discovered a Facebook group pretending to represent Brock students. That group was linked to another Facebook group called “Grads of 2009 (Canada)” that had other links to fake “Class of…” websites at more than a dozen Canadian universities.
Melnyk contacted Facebook administrators, and was able to persuade them to take the Brock scam site down, citing copyright infringement on the group’s main logo. But when he met Ward on the Brock University campus, using Ward’s contacts at the social networking site, was able to convince Facebook administration to bring the whole fake Canadian network of sites down.
New online service allows students to send doctored files to unsuspecting profs
What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever given a professor for missing a deadline? Maybe your computer crashed, or your e-mail didn’t send properly. Maybe you faked an illness or family emergency. Maybe you insisted your TA lost the paper.
Chances are high that your professor has heard it all before. And for most, telling the difference between who’s telling the truth and who isn’t is easier than most students might think.
“Undergraduates who lie about dead grandparents outnumber honest students by at least 10 to 1,” writes one professor on the ranting website RateYourStudents. “What’s especially distressing is how EASY they find it to lie, and how OBVIOUS their lies are.”
But a new online service is toeing that line a bit more closely.
At Corrupted-Files.com, students can buy a corrupted file — either Word, Excel or Powerpoint — for just US$3.95 a pop. The files come in a range of sizes, from 2, 5, 10, 30 or 40 pages, to suit any length of assignment, and can be downloaded from the company’s website. The student can then re-name the file (i.e. Karen_English101) and send it as an attachment to their prof. Custom files can be ordered for a price of US$8.95.
According to the site, “it will take your professor several hours if not days to notice your file is ‘unfortunately‘ corrupted. Use the time this website just bought you wisely and finish that paper!” Apparently, the files can’t be opened traced and reversed, and new files are uploaded periodically. “We take pride in our corruption!”
For its part, the website says the service isn’t plagiarism, which is defined by the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary as the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”
But is it cheating? Because they’re buying themselves an extension, the site says that students will be getting an “unfair advantage” and says students should first ask their teacher for an extension before they use a corrupted file.
So, what do you think? Cheating or not?
Anonymous reporting system can take tips either online or over a telephone hotline
A new security reporting tool, designed to allow employees to report theft, fraud, vandalism and unethical behaviour, is creating controversy at the University of Ottawa.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, the trademarked ClearView Connects system, which will cost the school about $13,000 dollars, will collect anonymous tips both online and through a live operator on a telephone hotline. The tips will then be forwarded to the school’s governance office.
In an email to staff, acting vice-president of governance Nathalie Des Rosier says “it is the duty of each employee to immediately report any incidents of wrong-doing related to University activities.”
She says McMaster has a similar reporting policy, as does the University of Lethbridge and Athabasca University.
Some academics are outraged, and say the system represents an invasion of privacy.
“A snitch line — that’s really what this is — creates an atmosphere of mistrust and secrecy,” said James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. “It will open the door to malicious allegations because it promises anonymity.”
Phil Enright, ClearView’s executive vice-president of sales says the service is not a snitch line.
“My clients use it as an employee engagement mechanism — they know their concerns. Employees report things they sincerely believe to be a problem. It’s a positive thing,” he says. “Our clients have reported that the system is extremely valuable. Not just learning about ethics concerns, but learning about people leaving the organization.”
Enright declined to say how many clients the company has, but ClearView is the major player in Canada. He says the system is compliant with the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
For more, click here.
Investigation finds 35 students selling student transit passes online
According to a CBC News investigation, about three dozen Vancouver university students are illegally selling their discounted transit passes online for a profit, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The so-called U-Passes, which have a photo on the front and are non-transferable, are used by as many as 70,000 students at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University and Langara College.
The price of the passes ranges from around $100 to $150 for four months, depending on the school, and allows unlimited travel on all of Vancouver’s public transit vehicles (including the light-rail SkyTrain and aquatic SeaBus). The cost is automatically added to students’ tuition fees regardless of whether or not they use public transit.
An equivalent pass, for four months, would cost a regular transit user $544.
Searching the classifieds website Craigslist, the CBC investigation found that 35 students were selling their U-Passes online. The team then met the students in person and filmed them with a hidden camera. Some of them said they have no use for the passes, and sell them every year.
One student told the CBC that bus drivers don’t usually check the pass photo against its carrier, and that they usually “just flash it” when getting on the bus.
In an attempt to test the drivers, CBC sent one of its white female producers on a bus, armed with the U-Pass of a male East Asian student. The female producer flashed the pass at three different bus drivers, “none of whom batted an eye,” although she later paid the fare after telling the drivers about her experiment.
A spokesperson for TransLink, Vancouver’s transportation agency, says bus drivers can’t slow down boarding to check holders of the discounted passes, and increasing policing would cost more than a crackdown would save.
He also says it’s hard to quantify how much the company is losing to U-Pass reselling.
More than 200 military members, civilians and contractors caught with fake degrees
When U.S. soldiers can’t be all they can be, some fake it.
At last count, more than U.S. 200 service members, army civilians and defence contractors bought bogus university degrees in order to snag promotions and boost their paychecks. One especially sneaky major rose through the ranks with the help of eight fake degrees, including a bachelor’s in Business Management, a master’s in Management and a Ph.D in International Management Strategy.
“To have someone who would go and do something like this, it sickens me,” said one defence department spokesman. “Each case, it is significant, it is egregious and it just smacks right at those core values that we live by.”
The U.S. army has launched its own internal investigation.
Watch the video from WHNT News here.
RCMP refuses to release further details
Police in Saskatchewan have charged a former administrator at the First Nations University of Canada, following an investigation into financial irregularities.
RCMP issued a release yesterday saying that a 57-year-old man, formerly of Regina, is accused of defrauding the university of a sum exceeding $5,000 and will appear in court on July 21.
Sergeant Carole Raymond, RCMP spokesperson, said police will not be releasing the man’s name until he appears in court.
Sgt. Raymond also refused to say whether the man is a current or former employee of the university, saying that doing so would identify him.
“There’s only one person who would be in that position,” Sgt. Raymond said.
However, Al Ducharme, vice-president of administration and finance, confirmed late yesterday that the man was a former employee.
“He was part of the major administration of the university. That’s all I can really say,” Ducharme said.
Ducharme said the charges stemmed from an audit the university conducted in 2005.
He said the results of that audit were of a nature that the university felt it had to call in the RCMP.
In 2005, three senior officials were suspended and the university’s board of governors ordered a forensic audit of the school’s finances.
Two officials were eventually fired for cause, while the third returned to work.
In the months that followed, several high-ranking officials were fired or suspended, while others resigned.
- The Canadian Press