Halifax woman battling cancer scammed out of $5K: ‘She has no money left’

Click to play video: 'Halifax cancer survivor out thousands of dollars after phone scam'
Halifax cancer survivor out thousands of dollars after phone scam
WATCH: A Halifax woman is out thousands of dollars after falling victim to a phone scam. Emma Mann, a cancer survivor with cognitive impairment, is now unsure how she'll pay homecare workers after losing $5,000. Zack Power has the story – Jun 5, 2024

Emma Mann has gone through a lot in her 32 years.

She was diagnosed with brain tumours before the age of two, is currently battling skin cancer, and has undergone many radiation treatments.

Now, her most current fight is against scammers, who bilked her out of more than $5,000.

On Monday, she received a scam call, ironically alleging she was the victim of fraud and needed to help recuperate the money.

“When they called me at 9:30 (a.m.), they told me that someone had used my card for $400 on Amazon,” she recalled.

What followed was a hectic couple hours where she travelled by bus around Halifax buying up gift cards.

Her mother, Tracie Mann, says Emma lives with cognitive impairment and can be very trusting of people.

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“She bought four cards with her bank card, and they were $500 each. So that was $2,000. And then they told her to go to the bank to get a cash advance of $3,000, and then to go back to Sobeys or Superstore to go buy more cards,” she said.

“And then after that, they told her to go get some money on her Visa and then go back to another store and get more cards.”

Photos of receipts show four Atlantic Superstore transactions for $500 Visa gift cards that were purchased within minutes of each other. A further three receipts show Emma purchased three Apple gift cards from Sobeys — also within minutes of each other and from three separate cashiers.

“I was just nervous because they kept telling me to go, like hurry up. I only had like two hours or something,” she said.

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Ultimately, Emma gave all the codes from the cards to the scammers. The money is lost.

When she met up with Tracie that same day, Emma broke down and told her what happened. Tracie says when they checked her bank account online, there was only $79 left.

“She’s on disability. She lives by herself with her cat, and she has no money left in her bank. I just feel really bad for her. She’s very stressed,” said Tracie.

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They immediately called police, the bank, Apple, Visa — anyone who would listen.

So far, they’ve only had  about $35 returned, and Scotiabank says it’s investigating.

In an emailed statement, Scotiabank said it cannot comment on individual cases due to privacy reasons. The bank encourages customers to know the signs of common scams and to call them if they receive such a call.

“We take cases of fraud seriously and encourage clients to be wary of any unsolicited calls, text messages or emails they receive, especially if they are asking for personal information,” the statement read in part.

Tracie says she tried asking Apple if they could tell her where the gift cards were used, but was told that was not information they could release.

“That’s something that you should be able to do — to have some kind of a transaction there, somewhere that shows that. Maybe you could catch these people, but there was nothing,” she said.

Tracie Mann (R) says they’re speaking out because they want to warn others. Zack Power/Global News

Meanwhile, police say scams like this one keep them busy, and are unlikely to ever go away. Halifax Regional Police spokesperson, Const. John MacLeod, advises people who get similar calls to think carefully and try to look for red flags.

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“You should be able to reach back out to the agencies to confirm who you’re dealing with and for us, what’s a red flag is when individuals are looking for money through gift cards,” he said.

Tracie says they’re speaking out because they want to raise awareness about these scams and the fact that seniors are not the only people who are susceptible to falling victim.

“It can happen to these young people who have disabilities that are trying to live on their own,” she said, adding the scam has taken away her daughter’s ability to be independent and feel safe.

“It’s going to take her a while to regrow her bank account where it was, where she was safe and where her and her cat could be comfortable. They’ve taken that away.”

— with files from Global News’ Zack Power 

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