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10 Ontario Pension Frauds and Mishaps — Oh, the Trouble They’re In

That kindly, silver-haired granny or grieving widow might not be as innocent as you think. Get ready for Ontarians acting badly (mostly).

Spending Money They Don’t Have

Diverting a parent’s or spouse’s pension or benefits got nine Ontarians in more legal trouble than it was worth. (Talk about being too clever for their own good.) And blindsided one heir, who got handed a half million dollar bill when the dust finally settled.

Did He Divert Parents’ Pension Cheques to His Account?

Toronto senior Bob Mougtoussidis, 70, was charged in 2014 with stealing $197,000 in CPP and OAS cheques. Mougtoussidis collected his mother’s pensions for 15 years after her death. He stands accused of fraud over $5,000, possessing the proceeds of crime and money laundering. 

$24 Million and Counting

Greater Sudbury general manager Dirk Plate barely evaded a $20 million civil judgment after being found guilty with co-conspirator Paul Caron of a massive pension annuity fraud. The court sentenced Plate, then 73, and Caron, 72, to a federal penitentiary in 2016 for duping Sudbury mining and construction equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco Canada out of $24 million. Plate won an appeal in April 2019 to have the civil award reconsidered. His $1.44 million in annuities, kickbacks for not exposing Caron for submitting phony health insurance claims, grew in value between 2003 and 2007 while the fraud went undiscovered.

Kept Federal Pension After Husband Died

A 78-year-old unnamed senior cashed her deceased husband’s CPP and OAS benefits for more than 14 years before being ordered to repay $151,310. The Windsor resident pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000. She got probation and a 12-month conditional sentence.

Repaying Pension After Body Found

Lynne Threlfall is on the hook for close to half a million dollars, through no particular fault of her own, after her de facto spouse’s body turned up six years late. George Roseme, a Carleton University professor with early stage Alzheimer Disease, disappeared in 2007. Threlfal collected his pension while he was missing. But in 2013 his remains were finally found. Supreme Court of Canada sided with Carleton that the pension payments were made in the mistaken belief he was alive. Since Roseme’s pension expired upon death, the university can collect retroactively because of the “error”.

“Scornful” Conspiracy Shunned by Ontario Court 

Toronto husband and wife Alireza and Koukab Shojaei masterminded a fraud to have Alireza declared dead that cost them over $172,000 and five-year federal prison terms. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers claimed the couple illegally scooped up close to $48,000 in pre-retirement death benefits and health and welfare services before Alireza was located, very much alive, living in California with his wife and sons. The scam got underway in 2008, when Koukab submitted a forged death certificate and medical forensic report stating her husband had died of a heart attack while visiting Tehran. She collected a $1.01 million life insurance payout with the aid of her children in the “high-handed, deliberate” and, according to the judge, scornful conspiracy. 

Took Teachers’ Pension for $135,000 (Allegedly) 

Gladys O’Brien was accused last year of cashing CPP and OAS cheques worth over $179,000 after her mother died in 1993 and her father in 2006. She’s charged with fraud and theft over $5,000 and possessing the proceeds of crime. O’Brien, 60 at the time she was arrested, is alleged to have taken the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for $135,000 more over the past 12 years. 

Court Battles Exhaust Savings  

Anthony Okafor was in legal hot water in 2005 for pretending to be unable to work during a 16-year Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) fraud. Five months after registering his company with WCB in 1981, the aluminum siding installer claimed to have suffered an injured shoulder that left him unable to work. Between 1982 and 1998, the province paid Okafor $318,308.57 in disability payments, a pension, vocational rehabilitation and supplementary benefits. Needless to say, soft tissue injuries are notoriously difficult to prove and when his benefits were abruptly ended after a brief investigation in 1998, Okafor was criminally charged. By 2013, with the court battle still raging on, the 68-year-old accused had diabetes, high blood pressure and glaucoma and had to apply to the court to pay his legal bills.  

18 Months for Elder Abuse

Philip Owen, 57, got a swifter ride in the justice system when he attempted to divert his mother’s pension and took money from a joint bank account. Owen’s attempt to forge a property deed and land transfer tax affidavit giving him his mother’s condo in 2009 brought criminal charges. The judge saved her harshest criticism for financially abusing a senior, which she called “a serious breach of his fiduciary duty to his mother,” who had Alzheimer Disease at the time. The accused contradicted himself on the witness stand, lying at times, she noted. With Owen still insisting he was innocent, failing to show remorse or insight into his crimes did little to reduce how serious the offences were. He got 18 months in prison and two years probation in 2014.

Get Legal Advice on Pension Frauds 

Axess Law’s Ontario wills and estates lawyers explain what to do if you think a family member is committing pension or benefits fraud. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make an appointment. In person meetings can be arranged at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s wills and estate services.

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