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Calgary man out nearly $5K after his bank account was accessed fraudulently

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A Calgary man is sharing his story after nearly $5,000 was fraudulently removed from his bank account.

It was late last November when Shpend Cekaj noticed nearly $5,000 gone from his Bank of Montreal bank account.

Cekaj says two different e-transfers were sent from his chequing account without his consent, after the money was taken from his line of credit, two minutes apart.

“I’m trying to support my family, not to support the scammers,” he said.

Cekaj says he filed a police report, but investigators say “there was insufficient evidence to proceed.” He says when he spoke to BMO, staff said the bank would investigate and get back to him after three weeks.

“Three months (is) when I get the answer, which was declined,” he said. “So no compensation.”

“How can I be sure, for example, if they investigated that, because if the money goes inside Canada, I don't think it's so hard to find that.”

The first transaction was for the amount of $2,500 that had been successfully deposited.

Three minutes later, a transaction of $2,480 was successfully deposited into another account.

Cekaj says he would like to see the money returned.

CTV News reached out to BMO for comment but has not received a response.

Fraud Prevention Month

Calgary police along with several partners kicked off a fraud prevention awareness campaign for March on Monday.

Last year, police received 9,400 fraud-related calls for service.

Of these, there were 5,301 incidents where fraud was the most serious crime that occurred. Fraud is frequently associated with other crimes, such as theft, theft of vehicles and break-and-enter.

“I have officers going out and giving presentations on fraud and I can't think of one time they haven't come back and said we had about two or three people who've fallen victim of fraud, but never reported it,” said Sgt. Nick Wilsher, with the Calgary Police Service crime prevention team.

He says investment scams involving cryptocurrency and romance scams have become quite prevalent.

“We saw at the beginning of the year romance scams seem to pick up,” he said.

“Now as we're entering March it seems to be more of the CRA scam. So there's lots of different scams as they move throughout the year. A lot of them are usually the phone call that tells you that it's either some form of mistaken transaction or Canada Post is holding a parcel for you.”

Wilsher also warns of artificial intelligence (AI) scams, that police in Calgary have dealt with less frequently, but he expects to see that change.

“It's not quite there yet in some things, but it's just a matter of time,” said Wilsher.

Police remind all fraud and scam victims to report the crime, no matter how insignificant they may feel it is.

This month police plan to focus on several key aspects of fraud:

  • Week one: online scams and fraud;
  • Week two: business fraud and scams;
  • Week three: investment scams; and
  • Week four: mass marketing and phone scams.

Police plan to hold a public event on March 8 at Market Mall.

With tax season here, the Canada Revenue Agency is also predicting more people to fall victim to scams, especially new Canadians.

“We recommend that once you are a newcomer to Canada, to educate yourself,” said spokesperson David Nunes.

“The name of the game is prevention but also education.”

The Better Business Bureau of Canada also released its 2023 Critical Risk Report citing that investment scams involving cryptocurrency topped its Top 10 list, with romance and employment scams also being part of the list.

President and CEO Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen says young adults aged 18-24 are falling victim more to online scams, while those 45 plus are falling victim to email and phone fraud.

“We also know from our data that men are more susceptible to losing money on those scams,” she said.

“So while we see an increase in complaints and scams being reported by women, we see that men are more likely to lose a higher dollar amount.”

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