Manitoba funeral director admits to faking client death certificates

Money was collected from insurance companies to pay for funerals that never happened

The excerpted article was written by Darren Bernhardt · CBC News 

A former funeral director pleaded guilty in a Winnipeg court Tuesday to 13 counts of faking death certificates to receive payouts from insurance companies.

Mike Knysh, who once owned and operated Knysh Funeral Chapel in Winnipeg and Beausejour, was set to go to trial in April on 24 counts in total — 11 for fraud and 13 for forgery.

Instead, his lawyer, Frank Coniglio, and Crown prosecutor Mandy Ambrose reached an agreement that saw the 11 fraud charges dropped in exchange for Knysh’s guilty plea in Court of Queen’s Bench to the 13 forgeries.

The victims had purchased prearranged funeral plans from Knysh, police said in April 2018, when the charges were laid.

The 13 counts represent 13 separate people for whom funeral director’s statement-of-death certificates were filed with insurance companies, even though all were alive at the time, court heard.

Knysh then received money from the insurance companies to pay for funerals that never happened. A total of $83,000 was claimed from the insurance policies, police said.

The incidents happened between 2004 and 2014.

As the court clerk read out each charge individually Tuesday, Knysh quietly pleaded guilty. He then responded with a muted “yes” when the clerk clarified each time that he said “guilty.”

Justice Chris Martin followed up by asking if Knysh realized his guilty pleas mean he will have a criminal record.

“Yes,” Knysh said.

Sentencing is set for April 14.

Outside the courtroom, Coniglio called the plea deal “an acceptable resolution,” noting there were a number of charges the defence did not believe were valid.

By avoiding trial, many witnesses — including several who are elderly — will not need to attend court, Coniglio added.

“We didn’t want any of them to have to go through that experience if it wasn’t absolutely necessary,” he said.

Coniglio hopes that will be considered as a mitigating circumstance by the judge during sentencing.

He added there are other such circumstances that will be presented at that hearing to show the crime “is not exactly what it might look like on the face of it.”

POLL: Calls to fight insurance fraud grow louder among Canadians

A recent survey commissioned by Aviva Canada and conducted by Pollara Strategic Insight finds that Canadians overwhelmingly support strong action to fight insurance fraud and clearly correlate fraud with increased premiums.  The survey showed that combating fraud is becoming more of a priority for Canadians, growing from 77% in 2017 to 87% in 2019, with overwhelming support in all regions of the country.

“With March being Fraud Prevention Month, we wanted to release this survey data, highlighting Canadian’s attitude towards fraud,” said Ashish Bhargava, Vice President, Aviva VerifyAviva Canada. “At Aviva, we are committed to raising awareness and educating our consumers, many of whom are unknowingly victims of fraud. We’ve long been a leader in the Canadian insurance industry and continue to advocate and fight for reform to reduce the levels of fraud, and to establish stricter consequences for those found guilty of committing it.”

The survey revealed that:

  • 90% of Canadians are aware there is a direct relationship between what an insurance company pays in claims and their annual premiums – an 18% increase in awareness compared to the results from a similar survey from 2017, which was also conducted by Pollara using the same methodology.
  • 87% of Canadians want more time and money spent on policing and prosecuting fraudulent insurance claims.
  • In fact, 72% of Canadians agree that increased prosecution of fraud could result in lower auto insurance premiums.
  • Half of Canadians feel one in four claims involve some element of fraud; a further 20% feel it may be closer to half of all claims.
  • 15% of Canadians report knowing of someone that has inflated the value of their personal belongings stolen from a vehicle.

The survey also pointed to the need for more consumer education, including:

  • Insurance companies can do a better job of helping consumers understand their rights at the accident scene; including that tow truck drivers are required to supply them with a detailed cost list, written notice of where they will be towing a vehicle and whether or not there are costs associated with the repair shop being recommended.
  • A little under half of Canadians indicated they are knowledgeable when it comes to their rental coverage, meaning some may overpay as a result.
  • Very few Canadians feel they are very prepared to navigate the claims process, with half of all Canadians admitting they aren’t prepared at all.
  • Almost 60% of Canadians believe they are not required to record police information or remove their personal items from their vehicle at the accident scene.
  • Two thirds of Canadians are unlikely to use a repair facility recommended to them by their insurer. Data from Aviva Canada shows that claims are resolved, on average, 30 days faster when using a recommended repair shop.

We urge consumers to be alert of any suspicious activity that may lead them to become a victim of fraud. Aviva Canada customers who suspect they may be a victim of fraud can contact our 24/7 fraud hotline 1-855-332-5255 or email us at fraud.canada@aviva.com.

Notes to editors

  • The survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insight through online interviews with 1,500 Canadians, 18 years of age and older, with a current auto insurance policy. The interviews were carried out from between October 14 to 21, 2019.  The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.  For a full copy of the survey results contact Aviva.

About Aviva Canada
Aviva Canada is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country, providing home, automobile, lifestyle and business insurance to 2.8 million customers. A subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, Aviva Canada has more than 4,000 employees focused on creating a bright and sustainable future for their customers and our communities. Aviva Canada invests in safer Canadian communities through Aviva Take Back Our Roads. Launched in 2019, Aviva Canada is investing in data driven solutions and strategic collaborations to make safer roads a reality for all.

For more information, visit aviva.ca

SOURCE Aviva Canada Inc.

Related Links

www.avivacanada.com

February/Valentine’s Day is a busy time for car insurance fraud TIPS Line

While February might be considered the month of love, increased activity to Manitoba Public Insurance’s TIPS Line suggests otherwise.

“Last year, February was the busiest month for tip calls,” said Curtis Wennberg, Chief Operating Officer, Manitoba Public Insurance. “I suppose nothing says ‘I don’t love you anymore’ than by placing a call to the anti-fraud TIPS Line.

“While all calls to the TIPS Line are anonymous, some callers will admit to being an ex-spouse or ex-partner of a person allegedly defrauding the Corporation. We can only speculate that emotions of past romantic relationships are triggered by increased talk about Valentine’s Day. Regardless of the reason, MPI is very appreciative of their help.”

Over the last five years (2015-2019), on average, there has been an increase of calls placed to the TIPS Line during February. Overall, 2019 was a record year for tips to the line with a total of 594 compared to 439 in 2018 ─ a 35 per cent increase.

Information gathered from calls to the TIPS Line is carefully reviewed in order to separate legitimate calls from frivolous calls to ensure innocent customers are not impacted. Manitoba’s public auto insurer saved more than $700,000 in 2019 as the result of information gained from calls to the TIPS Line. MPI estimates that fraud costs its ratepayers about $50 per year.

Suspicious claims are handled by MPI’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). The efforts of this special unit resulted in claims savings last year of more than $10 million for MPI rate payers. The SIU closed more than 1,200 investigations in 2019. In addition to the TIPS Line, Manitoba Public Insurance receives information about possible fraudsters from employees, police agencies, or Manitoba Crime Stoppers.

No matter the month or special occasion, anyone with information about auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.

Chinese military members face charges in Equifax breach impacting

By Tara Deschamps

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Four members of the Chinese military are facing charges for allegedly breaking into Equifax Inc. systems in 2017 and stealing data connected with Canadians, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed Monday.

An indictment filed by the department says the breach of the Atlanta-based credit monitoring company’s system compromised a “colossal repository of sensitive personally identifiable information.”

The breach affected the accounts of at least 19,000 Canadians, hundreds of thousands of Britons and 145 million Americans. The hacked information included names, addresses, social insurance and credit card numbers, usernames, passwords and secret question and answer data.

The four Beijing residents that the indictment alleges were involved in the hacking Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei are facing charges of computer fraud, economic espionage and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The indictment says that over several weeks the group used a software vulnerability and encrypted communication channels to carry out the breach. They allegedly made use of 34 servers located in nearly 20 countries and wiped log files on a daily basis to reduce the likelihood that they would be caught.

“To further disguise their infrastructure, the conspirators obtained access to the servers located outside of China from reseller hosting services, who pursue remote computing services from other providers and then lease those remote compute services to others,” the indictment alleges.

“The conspirators attempted to disguise their unauthorized access to Equifax’s online dispute portal by using existing encrypted communication channels within Equifax’s network to send queries and commands, which allowed them to blend in with normal network activity.”

Equifax, the documents said, did not notice the hackers’ activity for more than six weeks.

The document also accuses the men of stealing trade secrets from the company.

Equifax reached a US$700 million settlement last year with the U.S. government over the data breach, earmarking most of the funds for consumers impacted by the incident.

Meanwhile, the Canadian privacy commissioner’s office released an investigation last year that found Equifax had poor security safeguards, was retaining information too long, had a lack of accountability for Canadians’ information and offered limited protection measures offered to affected individuals after the breach.

Asked by The Canadian Press on Monday about potential moves the federal government’s public safety ministry and privacy commissioner will make given the new developments, neither outlined any action.

They instead discussed investments in cybersecurity and previous investigations into the incident.

The RCMP said it is maintaining “situational awareness of this investigation and (is) prepared to assist upon request” with an ongoing investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. or other international law enforcement partners.

Charles Finlay, the executive director of the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst organization at Ryerson University in Toronto, called the U.S.’s handling of the situation  “aggressive,” but said he didn’t expect the Canadian government to follow suit.

“My suspicion is that the Canadian government will likely wait to se how the U.S. proceedings go,” he said.  “The Equifax breach was much much larger in the U.S. than it was in Canada.”

The case is particularly important, he said, because the hackers gained a great deal of information about potential targets and can access more information by leveraging that stolen data. The situation is even more serious because it can involve a state trying to advance their national security interest, he added.

Finlay doesn’t think those whose information was exposed can be “made whole again,” so he said action like the U.S. is taking is warranted.

“And I think we can expect to see more of this,” he said. “It’s not a game. People’s lives are at a stake and we are now beginning to see governments operate in that way.”

IBC and CANATICS combine efforts to fight fraud

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) Board of Directors agreed to create an industry advisory group to lead the development of a strategy to ensure a smooth transition of anti-fraud services to a single entity. Currently, two entities, IBC and Canadian National Insurance Crime Services (CANATICS), provide anti-fraud services to the industry.

“Fraud costs Ontario drivers alone over a billion dollars every year. But it’s more than a financial problem. For example, insurance fraud cases needlessly tie up courts, fraud that involves staged collisions siphons emergency services away from those who truly need them. Combining the expertise of IBC and CANATICS will better align with insurers’ own efforts to fight fraud and enable data sharing that will make it easier to detect and prevent fraud,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.

The advisory group will include senior members of the insurance industry, with representatives from IBC and CANATICS. The group will begin meeting in late February or early March.

“Fraud continues to grow more pervasive and more sophisticated, and it’s time to up the ante in our fight against it. Our industry has a role to play in protecting innocent consumers from the impacts of fraud. Combining the efforts of IBC and CANATICS will strengthen the industry’s fight against this type of crime,” said Jason Storah, Chair of the Board of CANATICS, and CEO, Aviva Canada.

“IBC and CANATICS continue to collaborate during this time of business as usual,” added Don Forgeron.

​About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 128,000 Canadians, pays $9.4 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $59.6 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca.

About CANATICS

CANATICS, or Canadian National Insurance Crime Services, is a not-for-profit organization focused on using state-of-the-art analytical tools to identify potentially suspicious claims in insurance industry pooled data, to facilitate further investigation by individual insurers.

These are the 10 most stolen cars in Quebec this year

Basem Boshra CTV News Montreal

MONTREAL — The Insurance Bureau of Canda has released its annual list of the most stolen cars in Canada, and in Quebec, the Top 10 list consists of just two makes: Lexus and Toyota.

According to the IBC, these are the 10 most stolen cars in Quebec in 2019:

  1. 2018 Lexus RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD
  2. 2018 Lexus NX300/NX300h 4DR AWD
  3. 2017 Lexus RX350/RX450h 4DR AWD
  4. 2016 Lexus RX350/RX450h 4DR AWD
  5. 2017 Toyota HIGHLANDER 4DR 4WD
  6. 2018 Toyota HIGHLANDER 4DR 4WD
  7. 2015 Toyota PRIUS V 5DR
  8. 2017 Lexus NX200t/NX300h 4DR AWD
  9. 2015 Lexus NX200t/NX300h 4DR AWD
  10. 2016 Toyota Highlander 4DR 4WDd

 

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