A senior says she’s out $80,000 after being tricked by fraudsters

A senior living in the Tri-Cities area says she lost more than $80,000 to scammers because she thought they worked for her bank. She tells Angela Bower she’s on a fixed income, and the loss is devastating.

By Angela Bower and James Paracy

A senior citizen from B.C.’s Tri-cities area says she is out over $80,000 after falling victim to a scam.

Diane, who asked that we only refer to her by her first name for safety, says she received a phone call with the caller ID “CIBC,” and she thought it was her bank.

“He said you live at, and he said my address, and I said yes. Then he said your bank is at, and I said yes, it all sounded legit. Then he started going through my account number at the bank, the number on the front and the back. They knew everything about me, it sounded all legit when it happened,” she explained.

She says he was convincing and she felt she could trust him.

“He told me that there was fraud on my account and since they knew everything, I assumed wrongly that they were really the bank,” she said.

Diane says he then asked her to buy gift cards.

“I followed their instructions and I thought that was it and then they started harassing me, demanding more money and threatening me saying that if I didn’t do it I would be sorry, that my husband and my dog, my house would be in danger. So I was scared and I did what they said and now I am out $80,700.”

They also told Diane to withdraw money from her line of credit and buy them bitcoin. She says she did what they said to protect her family.

“The final day when I said, I can’t give you any more money. I have no more money. I called the RCMP because I was scared, I was so scared, and the RCMP has a file and I contacted everyone and now the money is just gone. Just gone.”

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Diane says the RCMP traced the bitcoin to India.

Lawyer Kyla Lee says online fraud cases have gone up in recent years because criminals can find so much personal information online.

“A lot of online fraud is being done from other countries where it makes it difficult for police to investigate and for prosecutors to lay charges,” she explained. “They can then use the information to manipulate us and get us to give our money and information over to them.”

Lee says banks have limited financial obligations to protect their clients from this kind of fraud.

“But it is the nature of the transaction. If you are doing something like purchasing a large amount of Bitcoin, that might be perfectly normal, lots of people thought it was a good investment. But as soon as you deal with Bitcoin it takes it out of the regulated market that the banks have and limits the options for banks to protect their customers.”

Diane has been on disability since the 1980s. She says she’s on a pension, and after paying back the line of credit, she’s left with only $400 a month. She urges people to be aware and learn from her experience.

“Please don’t let this happen to you,” said Diane.

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