Etobicoke couple defrauded of more than $33K in 'Landline Scam'
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2019 6:39PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 9, 2019 8:11AM EDT
An Etobicoke couple says they are devastated after losing $33,500 to scammers posing as bank employees.
Bill Virtue said he received a call from someone claiming to be with his bank around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 2. He was told an employee at his local branch was involved in fraudulent activity and it required immediate attention.
“He said you need to call the number on the back of your bank card so I hung up the phone and called the number on the bank card right away,” Bill Virtue said.
The couple was told their savings were in jeopardy and they needed to move fast to protect their money. They were concerned the situation was moving quickly, but the person on the line kept telling them not to worry because they had called into the bank.
“He reassured me and kept saying you called me. Remember you called the number on your bank card. I’m a bank representative and I’m trying to keep your money safe," Bill Virtue said.
In the hours that followed Bill Virtue was told their accounts would be frozen and they should transfer $33,500 into a cryptocurrency account where their money would be kept safe. They were also told not to speak to anyone about what they were doing at their branch because of the ongoing investigation.
Later that day, the couple got a call from someone who was an actual employee of their bank saying it appeared they had been victims of fraud in something known as the “Landline Scam.”
“When we called our bank, the phone call was intercepted,” Bill Virtue said. “They had the technology to do that. We thought we were talking with TD Bank but we were not."
Bank officials tried to recover the $33,500 that Bill Virtue had sent, but the money was gone.
Susan Virtue says the money was savings to help their children in the near future.
“That was money we set aside for weddings and, you know, it's tough," she said.
On the TD Bank’s website, it says that although the victim "hangs up," the landline does not terminate the connection. When the victim places a call to their financial institution, they are unknowingly still connected to the fraudster who then pretends to "answer" the call.
The fraudster impersonates an employee or an investigator for the business or financial institution and uses a range of tactics to influence victims to send cash or to transfer money to different addresses and accounts.
The Virtues believe they should be refunded the money lost in the scam.
“We would like to be reimbursed our funds and would like them (the bank) to accept responsibility," Bill Virtue said.
A spokesperson with TD Bank Group told CTV News Toronto that the Virtues will not be reimbursed for their loss.
"Unfortunately, a common technique that fraudsters use is to coach victims to mislead their financial institution and demand action in a very short timeframe."
The Virtues have asked for the bank's ombudsman to review their case.
If you're ever contacted by a bank or credit card company and asked to take part in investigations of employees, just say no. Banks will never ask customers to transfer money to external accounts for security reasons.