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Calgary hailstorm that caused $1.2B in damage ranks as Canada’s 4th costliest natural disaster



The hailstorm that hit Calgary on June 13 cost at least $1.2 billion in insured damages, making it the fourth costliest natural disaster in Canada’s history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“We’re looking at the most expensive hailstorm, and I think the residents on the ground are probably not surprised as they’re going through the rebuild on this,” Celyeste Power, western vice-president of the bureau, told CBC News Wednesday.

The storm hit northeast Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County hardest.

It damaged at least 70,000 homes and vehicles, and destroyed entire crops, as hailstones the size of tennis balls fell at 80 to 100 km/h.

The $1.2 billion is just a preliminary estimate and could rise, Power said, as total costs are finalized in the coming months.

“It is clear this is a devastating thing for many people,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday.

“Many people in Calgary have had their homes completely wrecked … a lot of people have had their livelihood taken away, and even those who were fully insured are still looking at huge deductibles, having to come up with thousands of dollars today for an expense that can’t be delayed.”

The provincial government announced financial support for residents who experienced overland flooding, as overland flooding insurance is often not available in flood-prone areas.

But some residents in northeast Calgary have said that’s not enough. Nenshi, who also lives in the area, said it’s important for the province to understand the impact to residents and said much of that money isn’t flowing to homeowners.

Many residents in that quadrant of the city are immigrants to Canada, and many were already facing financial hardships tied to the pandemic and oil price crash.

Nenshi said he spoke to one couple who are fully insured but out of work. He said their house was hit with $16,000 in damage and insurance will cover only $6,000, leaving them to come up with the remaining $10,000.

“We’ve got to come up with a better solution,” he said.

6 of Canada’s 10 costliest disasters have hit Alberta

Six of the 10 costliest natural disasters in Canada’s history have hit Alberta, Power said.

The most expensive on record was the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which cost nearly $4 billion. The next highest was the 2013 flooding that put downtown Calgary and much of southern Alberta under water, at a cost of $3.5 billion.

Calgary residents are cleaning up after a massive storm flooded its streets, while baseball-sized hail damaged cars and homes, and at least one tornado touched down outside the city. 2:03

Power said while no single storm will cause insurance premiums to increase, June’s hailstorm is part of a pattern.

“It’s hard to ignore the fact Canada has been hit hard with natural disasters over the last decade, we’re seeing much more frequent severe weather.… We are working with all levels of government to try and reduce risk and build as resilient of communities as possible, investing in infrastructure, getting people out of floodplains,” she said.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it has deployed its mobile assistance unit to help people in the region access insurance information.


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Canadian woman urges Ottawa to return husband from Bolivia –



A Canadian woman whose husband is stuck in Bolivia due to the COVID-19 travel shutdown is appealing to Ottawa to bring her husband back to her.

However, Ottawa is not planning any additional repatriation flights.

In February, Hugo Rolando Barrientos Cardozo, who is a Canadian permanent resident, left the home he shares with Megan Radford in Orleans, Ont., to tie up loose ends in Bolivia.

The plan was for her to join him in April, so they could fly back together and bring both of his dogs with them. After four years of marriage, they would finally be settled as a couple and ready to start a family.

But on March 16, days after the pandemic was declared, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians to return home while flights were available. The next day, Bolivia announced all flights in and out of the country would be suspended in four days.

Radford says the couple recently moved into a new home near Ottawa where they are hoping to start a family. (Destiny Dawn Photography)

In an instant, Barrientos Cardozo was stranded a continent away.

“I can’t sugar-coat it, it’s the worst. It’s really, really hard,” Radford said from her parents’ home in Brookside, N.S., earlier this week.

The couple is solid, she said, but “it’s just whether or not our mental health is going to be able to stay strong through it.”

Radford spoke for her husband, who declined an interview.

It’s been a long haul for the couple and other Canadians who remain separated from loved ones.

In a statement from Global Affairs Canada, a spokesperson said the final few remaining flights had concluded, and there are no plans for repatriation flights after July.

In the last few months, Ottawa returned nearly 57,000 Canadians on about 700 flights from 109 countries.

In May, Rob Oliphant, the parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, said the job was nearly 90 per cent done, but completing the “last part of the marathon is always the toughest.”

‘Their job isn’t finished yet’

Radford has called Global Affairs’ emergency helpline, and asked her member of Parliament, Marie-France Lalonde, for help to bring her husband home.

The air travel lockdown by Bolivia has created significant challenges to return Barrientos Cardozo, Lalonde said in a written statement.

Global Affairs would not comment directly on this case, but said it is aware of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Bolivia who want to come home, but cannot because there are no flights.

There are nearly 6,700 Canadians registered in Bolivia, though the department said registration is not an indication of a wish to stay or leave.

Radford has temporarily moved back home with her parents. The couple stays connected through daily video calls. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Radford notes that while Britain and the U.S. have had repatriation flights to Bolivia, Canada has not.

“I think their job isn’t finished yet,” she said. “There’s so many of us still waiting and saying, ‘Well, what about us?'”

The situation is urgent because Bolivia, which is ruled by an interim government and is one of Latin America’s poorest countries, is suffering under the added strain of COVID-19.

It’s so desperate that the country has imposed a strict curfew.

“They’re having to gather bodies off of the street because people don’t know where to put their dead, or they kind of just die in the streets because they can’t get into the hospitals,” Radford said.

The anxiety grows for the couple with each passing month. In October, Barrientos Cardozo’s passport will expire, adding another complication. Bolivian government offices closed in March.

Painful wait

Waiting for him alone at home for months has been a strain. In June, she moved back in with her parents and siblings because of it.

After facing the challenges of Canada’s immigration system to get her husband permanent residency status, this uncertainty is worse, she said.

The couple, who are Christians, are relying on their faith to get through this separation. But while they’re both healthy, that could change in a heartbeat with COVID-19.

“Rolo and I have been apart most of our relationship, but this is different. There’s a life-threatening disease involved,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to even sleep because I’m wondering if he gets sick, what’s going to happen.”


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Fraudsters create fake Canadian company, steal foreign website to victimize job seekers –



When Ashley lost her position as a French program co-ordinator due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she threw herself into an aggressive search for another job.  

With experience in sales, marketing and co-ordination, the 25-year-old sent her resume out widely and posted it on Indeed, Linked-in and other reputable career sites. 

So when a Vancouver-based technology company called Gux-IT contacted her in June and invited her to apply for a full-time “general assistant” position she would work remotely from her Toronto home, she was excited — but also cautious. 

Although working from home has become the norm, especially over the past several months of the pandemic, Ashley was also conscious that employment scams — where people desperate for work are “hired” into jobs that don’t exist and tricked into using their own money for things — have been on the rise. 

Her first step was to make sure there was a job posted on Gux-IT’s website and thoroughly examine the rest of it.  

“I also always check, too, when I do go on websites, the red flags,” Ashley said. “That means the ‘about us’ page, that means a number, an address, all the different links that are able to be clicked. I did check all of those things.” 

The people she was communicating with used Gux-IT email addresses. In her job interview, she spoke with someone on the phone who appeared to be calling from a B.C. area code. Ashley even looked up the company’s headquarters with Google Street View.

She thought she had checked all the right boxes. But what she didn’t realize was that Gux-IT itself is a fake organization — nothing more than fraudsters hidden behind a duplicated website and an incorporated company that doesn’t belong to them.  

Job scams on the rise

Job scams are on the rise and becoming more sophisticated, said Jeff Thomson, senior RCMP intelligence analyst at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

In 2019, the centre received more than 2,400 job-related fraud reports, he said. The number of reports counted in 2020 is already more than 2,300 — and that’s only up to July.    

With more people losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking work, as well as shifting to doing business primarily online, “it’s sort of ripe for job scams right now,” Thomson said. 

The home page for Synebo, a company based in Odessa, Ukraine, is shown on the left. Gux-IT, a fake company created to attract job seekers it can then use to transfer money into crytocurrency, copied Synebo’s website to look like a legitimate organization. (CBC News)

Ashley’s first day of work at Gux-IT on July 6 started normally enough. She gave the company a copy of her driver’s licence, but not her social insurance number. She didn’t supply any banking information; she was told she’d be paid via e-transfers biweekly.

The person introduced as Ashley’s HR manager communicated with her using the Telegram messaging app — something that didn’t seem strange in an era of teleworking.  Her manager used the name Nancy Garapick. After the fact, Ashley realized it was a fake identity — the stolen name of a Canadian Olympic swimmer.  

CBC News has agreed to use only Ashley’s first name because it’s not known who or where the people behind Gux-IT are. She fears for her safety after sharing her experience publicly. 

For the first part of the day, Nancy had Ashley watch training and orientation videos. She urged Ashley to contact her with any questions or concerns.

Later in the day, Nancy messaged Ashley with her first task: to help the IT department, which she was told advised clients on what software and website hosting tools they needed and also bought them on clients’ behalf.

Cryptocurrency transactions

“It is quite simple: you will need to buy domains, hosting for websites, pay for various tools that they need in their work,” wrote Nancy in a message Ashley screengrabbed and provided to CBC News.

To do that, Nancy wrote, “we will carry out the task of replenishing your work wallet” using Ethereum, or “Ether” — a cryptocurrency much like bitcoin.

Ashley, who brought Gux-IT’s fraudulent activity to CBC’s attention, took screenshots of her Telegram conversations with the person posing as her HR manager, including those instructing her to transfer cash into the cryptocurrency ‘Ethereum.’ The HR manager used the fake name ‘Nancy Garapick,’ stolen from a Canadian Olympic swimmer. (Submitted by Ashley)

There are bitcoin and Ethereum ATMs — just like regular ATMs — in convenience stores across Toronto, and several in other Canadian cities, such as Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver.  Ashley was told she would receive an e-transfer of $2,000 from the company and then go deposit it into a cryptocurrency ATM located in a convenience store on Gerrard Street in Toronto to start her “work wallet.”

Wanting to be extra cautious, Ashley contacted her Scotiabank branch and told them an e-transfer was coming from a new employer, and to alert her if anything looked suspicious. When the transfer arrived within a couple of hours, the bank didn’t raise any alarms, so Ashley withdrew the $2,000 as instructed and made the deposit.

She had just deposited the money into the Ether wallet when her phone rang with devastating news. The Google Street View she had previously seen had shown a building with several businesses in it, so her boyfriend had contacted a bar on the ground floor and asked an employee there if he would check the office directory after his shift.

‘My heart and my stomach just sank’

Still standing beside the ATM, Ashley listened as this “kind soul” returned their call. 

“He’s like, ‘Hey guys, I looked into it for you … and this company doesn’t exist. Like, it’s nowhere in the building,'” she said. “My heart and my stomach just sank.” 

Thomson at the anti-fraud centre said they’ve received another similar, anonymous report from someone else who was “hired” by Gux-IT and asked to do the same thing. 

The goal of “cash-out scams” like this, he said, is to move dirty money using “employees.”

‘Nancy’ directed Ashley to this Bitcoin and Ethereum ATM in a convenience store on Gerrard Street in Toronto to convert about $2,000 into cryptocurrency. (Greg Bruce/CBC News)

“What we see is the fraudsters take time to set up fraudulent websites that may spoof real companies or seem legitimate,” Thomson said. 

Then, they take money from “compromised accounts” and have unsuspecting people who think they’re doing legitimate work convert it into cryptocurrencies that are hard for law enforcement to track, he explained.

“They’re implicating you in a money laundering scheme, a cash-out scheme.”

Stolen website and parent company

CBC News investigated Gux-IT and found its website had been stolen — copied almost word for word, including the design, the description of the company’s services  and even employee photos — from a company called Synebo based in Odessa, Ukraine.  

The fraudsters substituted the name Gux-IT, or just “Gux, ” wherever Synebo is mentioned.

When reached by CBC News in Ukraine on Thursday, the founder and head of Synebo, Shimshon Korits, confirmed he had never heard of Gux-IT.  Synebo had recently received a couple of messages through its “contact us” email, which Korits wasn’t sure what to make of, alerting him that Gux-IT appeared to be stealing his company’s identity.

The Gux-IT website copied almost every part of Synebo’s website, including employee photos and company history, pictured above. Synebo’s website is on the left and the Gux-IT copy is on the right. (CBC News)

CBC News reviewed the emails: one was from someone who had been checking out Gux-IT for a friend who had been offered a job there and found the same photos were on both websites through a reverse image search. The other was from a woman who said she had clicked on the phone number listed on Gux-IT’s website and Synebo’s number came up.

When CBC News called the number at the bottom of Gux-IT’s website, it was out of service. 

With everyone associated with Gux-IT using fake names, no one knows who to contact. After “Nancy” tried to get Ashley to move another $3,000, Ashley blocked her.  Nancy then erased all the messages they had exchanged on Telegram, Ashley said. 

Even the “parent company” listed on Gux-IT’s website — Gux Enterprises Ltd. — is stolen. 

Ken Ellis, a steamfitter in rural Bonnington, B.C., registered Gux Enterprises Ltd. as a corporation last October when he was considering starting an equipment rental business. CBC News found him through the incorporation certificate filed with Industry Canada. 

Reached by phone on Thursday, Ellis was stunned.

“They’re just stealing my name and putting it on their website,” he said after checking the Gux-IT site himself.

‘This is a new digital world’

Ellis reported it to his local police force immediately after speaking to CBC News.

“Unfortunately the local police have informed me that they have no resources to take down the website or even do anything but open a file,” he wrote in an email. “I find it sickening that criminals keep finding more complex ways to fool and fraud people with relative impunity.

Ashley felt the same way. She’s reported Gux-IT to the Toronto Police Service and to Scotiabank. Both told CBC News they are investigating. 

So far, there’s no sign that the e-transfer she deposited at the cryptocurrency ATM has bounced, but her bank hasn’t confirmed that. Like Thomson at the anti-fraud centre, she suspects that the people responsible were using her to launder money. 

In addition, when she called credit monitoring companies Equifax and Transunion to flag her credit cards the day after she realized Gux-IT was a scam, she was horrified to learn her birthdate and address had been changed in their systems.  

Although they can’t prove Gux-IT was behind that, Thomson said he wouldn’t be surprised.

“They’re not just going after your money, they’re going after your personal information.  Your personal information is a commodity,” he said, noting that the fraudsters would likely use it to open other accounts, or sell it to other identity thieves. 

Although Ashley did her due diligence in researching the company, the “red flag” that should stop even the most savvy people from falling for schemes is being asked to transfer money — especially into cryptocurrency, Thomson said. 

“That’s where we say, ‘don’t do it,” he said. 

Ashley hopes that sharing her story will also help. 

“This is a new digital world,” she said. “I hope this helps others educate themselves.”

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Canada adds 374 new covid19 cases, 4 deaths on Thursday



Canada saw 374 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and four new deaths.

The country now has 118,561 cases total and 8,966 deaths.

Ontario reported 95 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 39,809.

This is the fourth day in a row Ontario has seen case counts lower than 100.

The death toll in the province has risen to 2,783 as one new death was reported.

Meanwhile, 35,906 Ontarians have recovered from COVID-19, which is 90 per cent of cases.


Quebec reported 133 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus on Thursday.

The province has now recorded a total of 60,133 infections and 5,687 deaths from the disease.

Over in Nova Scotia, no new cases were reported Thursday. Two active cases remain in the province.

Two new cases were reported in New Brunswick — both linked to temporary foreign workers who had arrived in Moncton — totaling six active cases in the province and 176 confirmed cases total.

Saskatchewan reported one more death Thursday to make 19 total, as well as 11 new cases. There are currently 204 active cases in the province.

Manitoba saw a significant jump in COVID-19 cases Thursday, with health officials reporting 30 new cases of the virus compared to two cases reported Wednesday.


The new cases bring the total number of known lab-confirmed and probable cases reported in Manitoba since March to 474, with 118 currently active.

Meanwhile, Alberta saw 56 more cases as the province celebrated a week-long trend of daily cases coming in under 100 after a surge in cases across the province. The province has seen 11,296 total cases and currently has 1,107 active cases.

Two more deaths were also reported to bring its death toll to 205.

British Columbia reported 47 new cases in the past 24 hours to bring the total number of cases in the province to 3,881.

There are now 371 active cases, and 11 people are in hospital, five of which are in critical care. The number of active cases has risen dramatically since being at 166 in early July.

For the sixth day in a row, there have been no new deaths. The number of people who have died of COVID-19 in B.C. remains at 195.


There have now been 19,007,938 coronavirus cases worldwide with 4,876,790 of them in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

In total, 712,334 have died around the world, and 159,990 in the U.S.

— With files from the Canadian Press, Gabby Rodrigues, Karla Renic, Thomas Piller, Shane Gibson, Kirby Bourne

Source:- Global News

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