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573 complaints to city’s fraud & waste hotline last year

An annual report on fraud and waste involving city services shows city employees used work equipment to make and post “inappropriate videos” of co-workers online, approved nearly $50,000 in subsidies to people who didn’t qualify, altered doctor’s notes to get time off and used sick time to work second jobs.

The 2010 complaints resulted in $85,790 in losses and so far only $2,267 of that has been recovered, the study said. Auditor General Jeff Griffiths released his 10th report on the tip line Monday, just over a week before his findings are presented to the audit committee.

The city received 573 complaints in 2010 — a decrease of 15 per cent from the previous year — and 50 per cent of those complaints included at least two or more allegations. The city says 50 of the complaints have been either partially or fully substantiated.

The Fraud and Waste Hotline was established in 2002 to provide an outlet for city employees and the public to report any wrongdoing involving city services. Complaints can be made anonymously.

The report also highlights cases involving city employees claiming unwarranted sick time, submitting false mileage claims, overusing city cell phones for personal use and performing unrelated work during city hours.

Learn how to file a complaint.

Here’s a sample of some of the complaints:

June 2010

A city employee took sick leave due to a medical condition that caused physical restrictions and was caught “engaging in construction-like activities”.

An investigation showed this person’s disability claim, totaling $59,000, was false.

This person no longer works for the city.

June 2010

A city employee altered doctor’s notes required to book time off. Unwarranted sick time and benefits totaled $13,000.

That person no longer works for the city.

Aug. 2010

Employees used city equipment to record and post inappropriate videos of fellow staff on a social media site.

City has since sent out guidelines about social media use at work.

Nov. 2009

A city employee altered documents that led to $49,000 in subsidies ($10,000 of that from the city, the rest from the province) to people who didn’t qualify for them. That same employee was the subject of a complaint a year earlier claiming they’d asked for payment in exchange for providing a subsidy.

This employee is no longer working for the city and Toronto Police are investigating the case.

A significant amount of that $49,000 was traced to one client, the spouse of a second city employee who falsified information. That second city employee knew about the falsified information and has been disciplined.

Nov. 2009

City employee claimed unwarranted sick time to work a second job. That happened 22 times in a three-year period, costing the city $3,500.

Nov. 2009

A city employee claims they were fired for making a complaint to the auditor’s office. After an investigation that employee was hired back.