An Ontario senior says she is devastated after losing $60,000 in a banking scam that started when a virus popped up on her laptop computer screen.
“I couldn’t shut it off, I couldn’t turn it off, this lady’s voice kept saying ‘you’ve been infected, don’t touch your computer and call this number,'” said Katharina Muir of Etobicoke.
Muir was working on her computer last month when the virus caused her laptop to freeze and there was a phone number that claimed to be with Microsoft that she should call for help.
Muir called the number, but the person who answered claimed to be the manager in the fraud department of her bank and said that they were investigating criminal activity at her local branch and needed her help.
“They said you have been compromised with this Trojan virus and someone in Hong Kong is using your name and banking information to buy child porn and I freaked,” Muir said.
The person on the phone told Muir at first to transfer $10,000 from her bank account to a Hong Kong bank account so they could catch the criminals when they went to collect the money.
The scammers then told her the first attempt to catch the criminals failed and she should transfer another $50,000.
Muir said since she thought she was dealing with officials from her bank trying to stop a child pornography ring she went ahead and transferred the money.
When the funds were not returned to her bank account, she went into her local bank branch to ask when her money would be returned.
That’s when officials at her local Scotiabank branch told her she had been caught in a scam.
“They said Mrs. Muir there is nothing we can do for you. This is your fault. You signed for this,” said Muir.
Muir is with Scotiabank. Katie Raskina, the manager of media relations and isues management with Scotiabank told CTV News Toronto in a statement. “Scotiabank cannot comment on specific customer matters for privacy reasons. Fraud is an ever-present risk in financial services and other industries and is a constantly evolving threat here in Canada and around the world.”
“It is in our interest to be diligent against fraud to ensure we maintain the trust and confidence of our employees and customers; to that end we work closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), law enforcement and counterparts at other financial institutions to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect our customers.”
“We encourage all individuals to practice safe banking habits and do their part to help recognize, reject, and report fraud. For resources and tips, please visit www.scotiabank.com/security.”
Muir said at the time her computer was hacked and she was dealing with the scammers it was the first anniversary of her husband’s death and she was in an emotional state as they had been married for 43 years.
“My husband would be absolutely devastated that this happened to me” said Muir. “I know if he had been here this never would have happened.”
Scotiabank is continuing its investigation into what happened and Muir is still hopeful that somehow her $60,000 can be returned as it was money that she had set aside to renovate her home.
“I need that money back. I’m not going to survive without it,” Muir said.
If you ever have a message “pop up” on your computer telling you to call someone don’t do it, and never take directions from anyone telling you to transfer funds out of your bank account.
If you’re in doubt speak with someone you trust and contact your bank directly.