Ottawa

'They knew everything about me': How latest credit card scam tricks victims

A CBC Marketplace investigation has revealed nearly 3,000 Canadians may have had their identities stolen in a new scam. An Ottawa woman explains why she fell for it.

Carmen Decarufel is 1 of close to 3,000 victims across Canada of credit card scam revealed by CBC

Ottawa resident Carmen Decarufel is fighting on two fronts: she's recovering from cancer treatment as a result of neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder. And she's trying to prove to her credit card company that she didn't spend a little more than $4,000 after falling victim to a scam. (Jennifer Chevalier/CBC)

A CBC Marketplace investigation has revealed nearly 3,000 Canadians are victims of a scam linked to identity theft.

​Fraudsters pretending to be from a financial institution or credit card company call up with an offer of a lower credit card interest rate.

But in replying to questions to qualify for the deal, victims end up giving away valuable personal information the scammers can use to steal their identity — and sell it online.

CBC received a list of the Canadians affected. Almost twenty of them are from the Ottawa area.

Carmen Decarufel's name was on that list.

Decarufel is currently off work as she recovers from cancer treatment as a result of neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder. She says falling for the scam in 2017 continues to plague her life today.

Here is how she describes it. (This interview has been edited for clarity and length.)


How did it happen?

I remember getting that phone call a couple years ago.

They knew everything about me. They knew my name and they said 'hello are you Mrs. Decarufel? Do you work at such a place? And you live at this address?... Well we have a great deal for you today. If you combine your credit cards for a low price, you can get a great deal'. So I said OK, well you know everything about me. They knew where I work and live, so I can trust them.

I'd just lost my job and I figured well, you know, you have a teenager at home and figured OK I'll put them altogether and it'll be a one-time thing.

But then the credit cards never got changed to the 1.99 per cent that they were supposed to.

Then I figured, well then I got hit or I got a got scammed again. And so that's when I called my credit cards and cancelled all of them.

Before Decarufel made that call, a little more than $4,000 had been charged to her card.

I had cigarettes, I had dating sites. One of them, I'm sorry to say, was porn. A list of stuff that I don't buy!

Because I was starting to get charges for stuff I didn't buy, I tried to say to them I didn't buy that stuff.

I had to prove that it was not me that bought the porn and cigarettes or whatever it was.

I'm still fighting with the fraud department and they're not listening. It's still going to take a long time. But you have to fight.

When informed by CBC that the credit card fraud was just the first part of the scam, and that her identity may have been stolen and sold online for as little as a dollar, Decarufel said she was shocked.

I'm only worth a buck?! Now I've got to call everybody, say, watch out because there's somebody else trying to be me.

When you get scammed once you got to be careful. So I'm just saying: people watch out there.

About the Author

Jennifer Chevalier

Enterprise Producer

Jennifer Chevalier is the senior producer of enterprise journalism at CBC Ottawa, focusing on original stories and investigative reporting. You can contact her at jennifer.chevalier@cbc.ca