His bank raided his account to cover a payment made to scammers
25 Nov 2020

Justin Smith has been hit with a one-two punch of bad luck.

First, the Toronto man was duped by a job scam that made off with $3,000. Then his longtime bank, Tangerine, helped itself to money Smith had in his tax-free savings account to recoup what it had lost in the scam.

“You keep your money in the bank because you think it’s safe,” he said. “And they treat the money like it’s theirs, and they just move it around to protect themselves. That’s not fair.”

Tangerine is an online subsidiary of Scotiabank that offers no-fee savings and chequing accounts.

Here’s how the double episode of misfortune unfolded:

Smith, who works as a delivery person, had applied to work from home as a data entry clerk for the grocery chain Sobeys. He was offered the job, and was excited to receive an employment contract along with a cheque from his new employer for $3,495 to purchase a laptop, phone system, headphones and various other office equipment.

“It all looked totally authentic and real,” he said.

Smith had checked out the names of the people who handled his hiring, and reviewed their profiles on LinkedIn to confirm they worked at Sobeys. So when he received an invoice from a firm called Tech Insight Services for the office equipment, and was instructed by the Sobeys hiring manager to make a $3,000 payment right away, he promptly sent an e-transfer.

“I only had $800 or so in my chequing account at the time, but after depositing the Sobeys cheque, I had over $4,000,” he said.

What Smith didn’t know was that the entire process was a sophisticated scam. The website where he’d applied, the supposed hiring managers, the cheque — all were fakes. His job application hadn’t been sent to Sobeys at all. He had fallen into a snare set to swindle eager job seekers. The cheque even fooled Tangerine; the bank instantly deposited it to Smith’s account.

Alarm bells didn’t start ringing until the next day, when Smith’s supposedly new employer told him he should send another $3,500 for a new desk.

“At this point, I became suspicious because no one spends that kind of money on a desk,” he said. “I called up Tangerine and I said ‘OK, I deposited a cheque yesterday, you guys let me send the money. I’m concerned that this cheque is going to bounce.'”

By Dianne Buckner, CBC News, 23 November 2020

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