A Canadian man who claimed benefits for fictitious children for more than a decade pleaded guilty last week to making false or deceptive statements and forgery.
Guerly Estimé, of Montréal, was found to have received up to $144,821 (roughly $116,000 USD) by claiming fraudulent Canada child benefits for a dozen fake children between 2007 and 2018, according to an investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Estimé pleaded guilty at the Montréal Courthouse last Wednesday and was sentenced to a conditional two-year sentence — followed by three years of probation. He was also fined the amount he received by claiming the fraudulent benefits.
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“Tax cheating is a crime. Falsifying records and claims, willfully not reporting income, or inflating expenses can lead to criminal charges, prosecution, jail time, and a criminal record,” the CRA stated in a news release on Friday.
Between April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, the CRA said there were 36 convictions for related tax crimes — with court-imposed fines totaling $5,172,844 (about $4,170,000 USD).
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Those convicted were sentenced for “willfully evading payment amounts” that totaled $10,902,950 (roughly $8,790,000 USD) in tax, according to the CRA. Out of the 36 convictions, 15 people were sentenced to a combined 26.2 years in jail.
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People or businesses that are found to have underreported income or claim fraudulent losses or benefits may have to repay the amount they obtained, according to the CRA. They may also be subject to “other possible action.”
“As a result of COVID-19, we are seeing the increased importance of these benefits, and are working to make sure that they continue to be available to Canadians,” the CRA added.