Vaughan, Ont., man says fraudster used fake IDs to take $45K from his bank accounts
Alleged impersonator took money from TD Bank and BMO, before transaction flagged by Scotiabank
A Vaughan man is raising concerns about bank security after he says an impersonator used two pieces of fake ID to take out a $20,000 bank draft from his TD Bank account and another $25,000 through a credit card and line of credit with the Bank of Montreal (BMO).
The self-employed 26-year-old never thought his accounts could be defrauded so easily.
He says a TD Bank branch manager told him the impersonator didn't even have his bank card or pin.
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"With just two forged pieces of ID — they're not even legitimate, because I have my own — he was able to access my account and do anything," the man said. "I thought it would be more secure than that."
CBC Toronto agreed not to disclose the man's name, because he's worried about going public with both his face and name while the alleged impersonator is still at large.
With just two forged pieces of ID ... he was able to access my account and do anything.- Vaughan man who says he was impersonated
All of this trouble started on Nov. 7, when the man got an email asking him to confirm a transaction made on his account at a TD Bank branch in Markham. That was a red flag, the man said, because he'd been in Toronto all day.
"They said, 'OK, someone impersonated you, because they took a bank draft this morning for a large amount, and it's already deposited at Scotiabank,"' the man told CBC Toronto. "I don't have an account at Scotiabank."
The transaction was flagged by Scotiabank and the bank froze the $20,000 deposit, while the banks investigated the situation, the man said.
As a result of the investigations, the 26-year-old says he can't access anything he has in the bank and can't use his debit and credit card.
CBC Toronto asked TD Bank how it was possible someone could get a bank draft for such a large amount of money with just two pieces of ID.
In a statement, TD Bank responded that its employees "are trained to look for signs of fraud and it's critical that both customers and financial institutions work together vigilantly to fight fraud."
When there's an incident, the bank said, "we work quickly to conduct an investigation to confirm whether it is fraud, and the customer is fully compensated for their loss."
After the investigation was underway with the TD bank draft, the man visited a BMO branch to close an account he had there, for fear it would be targeted as well.
Unfortunately, he said, it was too late.
BMO line of credit maxed out
The man said he was unable to close his account, because someone had taken $5,000 through his credit card with the bank and maxed out his line of credit by taking out another $20,000.
CBC Toronto asked BMO how it was it possible someone could take out so much money on a line of credit with just two pieces of ID.
In a statement, the bank responded that, "protecting our customers is a top priority, and we have systems and processes in place to do so."
BMO says that while the investigation into what happened with the man's account is ongoing, "we reimburse customers as quickly as possible after we determine they were impersonated."
The bank added that customers should "be vigilant in protecting their identification, and to consider setting up text message alerts that will notify them of their account activity."
The man reported both incidents to York Regional Police, which confirmed with CBC Toronto that they are investigating.
Still, the man is worried the impersonator could strike again.
"Every day I'm checking my account, making sure nothing more is missing," he said. "[The impersonator's] still out there, has my information … he can go to other banks, other credit unions or wherever and take a loan and I can't really stop him."
Police says this type of fraud isn't normal in York Region.
"There was a time when identity theft was a very common discussion," said Const. Laura Nicolle. "Then fraud trends shifted from identity theft to phishing scams, but these are still out there."
How to protect yourself?
Nicolle told CBC Toronto it's important for people to be very cautious and protective of their IDs, like driver's licences, social insurance cards and passports.
"You should not be supplying that to anyone who doesn't have a lawful reason for asking for it," she said. "Once someone can get access to your identity … they do have the freedom to try and manipulate your accounts or gain access to some of your credit potentially."
For his part, the man doesn't know how an impersonator got hold of his information to make fake IDs, because he says he hasn't lost any of them.
"It shouldn't be this easy that someone just has your name and address and can do whatever they want with your bank," he said.
"At this point, no one has told me that I would be getting my money back anytime soon."
With files from Talia Ricci