Man Pleads Guilty to Making Up a Dozen Children In Order to Scam Benefits From Government

A Canadian man who claimed to have a dozen children in order to scam child benefits from the government for more than a decade pleaded guilty to federal charges.

An investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) found that Guerly Estimé, of Montreal, received nearly $144,821, which is about $117,008 in American currency, by claiming 12 imaginary children for benefits between 2007 and 2018, the tax agency said.

Estimé pleaded guilty on Saturday to making false or deceptive statements and forgery in a Montreal courthouse. He was ordered to serve a two-year conditional sentence—typically a form of house arrest—followed by three years of probation.

"The CRA remains dedicated to maintaining the integrity of Canada's tax system, as well as the social and economic well-being of Canadians during these unprecedented times. The CRA continues to aggressively pursue tax evasion and false claims with all tools available to them," the agency said in a statement.

The judge also ruled that Estimé pay back the $144,821 in benefits he fraudulently obtained. Following the Canadian man's plea, the CRA emphasized that tax cheating is a crime.

"Falsifying records and claims, wilfully not reporting income, or inflating expenses can lead to criminal charges, prosecution, jail time, and a criminal record," the tax agency said.

There have been 36 convictions for related crimes between April 2020 and March 2021 for evading payments totaling $10,902,950 CAD (about $8.8 million USD) in tax, according to the CRA.

Canada Currency Tax Fraud Government Scam
A Canadian man who claimed to have a dozen children in order to scam child benefits from the government for more than a decade pleaded guilty to federal charges. Pictured: Senior Man Holding Canadian Paper Currency Mary E. Smyth/Getty Contributor

The courts imposed a total of $5,172,844 CAD (about $4.2 million USD) in fines, and out of those convictions, 15 individuals were sentenced to a combined 26.2 years in jail.

Convicted taxpayers are also required to pay the full amount they owe in taxes plus related interest and penalties in addition to any court-imposed fines.

The CRA added that it was also continuously working towards ensuring individuals and businesses report their earned income and eligible losses while also claiming benefits that they are entitled to so programs can reach those that need them.

Individuals or businesses who are caught underreporting income, fraudulently claiming losses or benefits, or claiming COVID-19 benefits that they are not entitled to will be expected to repay the amount they illegally obtained, according to the CRA. They could also face other legal 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 statement said.

Newsweek reached out to the CRA for comment.