Compiled by Staff Writers
New Scam Targets Aboriginals
Edmonton city cops are warning the public about a possible identity-theft scam aimed at the aboriginal community.
Detective David Vicen of the Edmonton Police Service’s economic crime section said the scam involves a fake MasterCard loyalty-card application form being sent out in mass e-mails.
The form says the cost of the card is $20 to cover set-up and activation charges and a monthly fee to be paid in advance.
It also asks for extensive personal information, including name, address and social insurance number.
The card depicted in the brochure is designed to appeal to aboriginal people. It features photos of two aboriginal men and claims to be linked with the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, a legitimate organization based in Winnipeg. Applicants are instructed to mail the money to a Winnipeg address.
“It appears the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce is a completely unknowing party to this,” said the detective.
While the card depicted in the brochure bears the MasterCard logo, the number on the card is a Visa number, said Vicen.
As well, the hologram on the credit card is not one used by MasterCard. “The credit card application has not been sanctioned by MasterCard,” said Vicen.
He explained the card the scammers are trying to sell is not actually a credit card, but a card that works like a bank account. The holder would put money on the card and then use that balance to make purchases.
“A bank account with all the privileges of a credit card,” the application says.
City cops were alerted after the Competition Bureau of Canada received a tip on its Phonebusters anti-fraud website.
Vicen says police don’t know whether anyone in the Edmonton area has fallen victim to the scam.
Anyone who has received the e-mail should call Phonebusters at 1-888-495-8501 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Contract specifies consultant leaves no paper trail
Federal officials are under fire for a $132,000 contract signed with an outside consultant that specifies the firm must leave no paper trail in government offices.
The deal Indian and Northern Affairs Canada signed with Ottawa-based Totem Hill Inc. explicitly states that “presentations shall be oral with supporting material provided to aid comprehension but not retained by the department.”
The February 2005 contract ensures there are no documents in the office filing cabinets that auditors can later verify and citizens can consult through requests through requests under the Access to Information Act.
“Verbal reports are completely unacceptable,” said Conservative MP John Williams. “It breaks all the rules of contracting.”
The Liberal government has already been under attack for previous consulting contracts that carefully specified that no paper work be generated.
In her scathing February 2004 report on sponsorship activities, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser uncovered five contracts that Finance Department had signed with Earnscliffe Strategy Group to provide secret “verbal” briefings and no written work.
Williams says the Indian and Northern Affairs contract shows that the vaunted clean-up of federal procurement is a sham.
“They have made all kinds of protestations since the sponsorship scandal broke loose that they were doing rigorous internal reviews to ensure the rules were being followed absolutely and completely,” he said.
“And here we are – a year after it all breaks loose = and they’re not applying the rules.”
Aboriginal Leaders angry over decision on man who assaulted girl
Aboriginal leaders are upset about a Supreme Court of Canada decision not to review the sentence of a Saskatchewan man who sexually assaulted a 12 year-old aboriginal girl.
Dean Edmondson avoided prison time when he was sentenced to two years of house arrest in 2003.
“I’m angry about it,” said Chief Robert Whitehead of the Yellow Quill First Nation, home reserve of the young victim.
“The justice system has never given Indian people a fair shot at anything … If anybody from my community did that to a 12 year-old girl it would be an automatic jail sentence and it wouldn’t be lenient one either.”
The girl’s uncle, who can’t be named to protect his niece’s identity, said she has turned to alcohol since her attack and has attempted suicide.
In an interview, he called the decision by the Supreme Court “awfully disappointing.”
“The girl’s life is ruined. There’s just no two ways about it,” the uncle said. “She’s just devastated by what happened.”
It was Saskatchewan’s Justice Department that requested the high court to review the issues surrounding Edmondson’s sentencing.
The three-judge panel gave no reasons for its ruling.
Beverly Jacobs, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and a lawyer as well, was bitter about the decision.
“Where is the real justice when it comes to aboriginal girls and women?” she said. “What kind of sentence is that? The impact of these cases sends a huge message out to society by saying it’s okay, it’s okay to sexually assault a 12 year-old.”
Dean Edmondson finished his house arrest sentence in September and is now working as a welder near Tisdale, Saskatchewan, the place where the assault took place.
No jail time for fed who tool $1.14 million
A Health Canada bureaucrat who took more than a million dollars, which was supposed to go to a First Nation health centre, won’t do any jail time.
In return for his testimony against the alleged ringleader of the scam, Patrick Nottingham was given a conditional sentence of two years less a day on Friday, November 18.
Nottingham is one of nine people charged after an investigation into what happened to the money given to the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation on the Sakeeng First Nation, located about 145 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
Earlier that week, Nottingham pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud after keeping $1.14 million intended for the addictions foundation.
He was Health Canada’s director in Manitoba, and was fired after a departmental audit found he had improperly approved $6 million in funding for the treatment centre.
Nottingham’s testimony will be important in prosecuting Perry Fontaine, former director of the foundation, Crown lawyer Jim Ross said.
Fontaine faces 13 charges but has denied the allegations.
Nottingham apologized and said he will repay as much as the money as he can.
Officials at the centre, which received millions of dollars in federal funding before it closed in 200, have been accused of misspending the money on bribes, lavish gifts and a Caribbean cruise for 70 staff members.
Nottingham was the second Health Canada bureaucrat to plead guilty in the case.
In March, a former assistant deputy minister was jailed after he admitted that he and his family received more than $200,000 in cash and gifts in exchange for funneling more than $70 million in contracts for the centre.
Paul Cochrane told the court that the kickbacks included nearly $30,000 in travel to Florida and the Caribbean, several SUVs and tens of thousands dollars in cash which he used to buy condominiums in Mount Tremblant, Que.
He alleged in court that they came from Fontaine.