A familiar and easy way to send and receive money has come under fire from a Calgary businessman.
Nigel McEathron sent his employee Leanna Marchant almost $1,700 back in March using an e-transfer. But when Marchant went to deposit it, it had already been deposited — but not by her and not in her account.
“It showed at her end that the money had been taken. It showed at my end the money had been deposited,” McEathron told Global News.
He suspected fraud so he contacted his bank, CIBC, to find out where the money had disappeared to.
McEathron said he was given the runaround several times by the bank which also referred him to Interac as well as the Calgary Police Service.
“I mean, it was just ridiculous,” he said. “They just went around and around and around.”
He eventually received a letter from the bank in October regarding his case.
“While we appreciate your efforts to recover your loss, there were no errors made in the handling or servicing of the e-transfer,” the letter reads. “In light of your relationship with CIBC, and as a gesture of goodwill, we would like to offer you a credit of $500 towards the loss.”
McEathron turned down the offer and contacted Global News as well as a lawyer.
“Frankly, I lost $1,700, I didn’t lose $500,” he said. “I was a victim of fraud so the buck stops with CIBC.”
McEathron pointed to CIBC’s page on e-transfers which states the popular practice is quick, easy and secure.
He and Marchant now question that.
“We had all of the security that we should in place,” Marchant said. “People should know that obviously this can be hacked anywhere and unless you’re a computer specialist, how do you know where it’s getting hacked?”
How to protect yourself from e-transfer fraud
Global News reached out to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). The national independent non-profit group helps resolve disputes between consumers and financial institutions.
Ombudsman Sarah Bradley said OBSI had received complaints of e-transfer fraud over the last couple of years but banks often have their hands tied.
“These are criminals that we’re dealing with,” she said. “It’s not always possible, unfortunately, for banks to recover money in these types of situations.”
Bradley also said while banks have a role in helping their customers, consumers also have a responsibility to protect themselves when it comes to e-transfers.
“This is essentially very similar to handing over cash, it’s almost as easy,” she added. “It’s really important that you be extra careful making sure you’re only transferring money to people that you know and that you trust.”
Bradley strongly suggested consumers set up the auto-deposit feature because then the transfer can’t be intercepted. Other tips include making sure security questions are something only you and the other person will know.
If you have been a victim of fraud, Bradley said it’s important to change your password right away as well as to contact your bank.
“If money has gone missing, through e-transfer especially, it’s really important that consumers act quickly,” she said.
McEathron and Marchant have questioned how much time it has taken CIBC to deal with this case. They asked repeatedly to find out more information about how this fraud occurred and where the money went but said they were shut down.
“I’ve been robbed, but I don’t know who robbed us,” McEathron told Global News.
Global News also reached out the bank to find out any additional details but we were not provided any information due to privacy reasons.
CIBC did agree to investigate McEathron’s case. In just over a week, CIBC officials got back to us with a statement that read, in part: “We can confirm we have worked with our client to resolve this issue. Protecting our clients from fraud is important to us and we make ongoing efforts to provide resources to help them protect themselves.”
McEathron confirmed to Global News he had received his money back, but he’s still upset he had to force the issue.
“It took nine months,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got a hold of Global that CIBC actually started to co-operate.
“At the end of the day, I’m not the villain, Leanna is not the villain and CIBC is not the villain.
“The villain is the criminal and these criminals are really smart.”