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Ontario man 'shocked' when $22,000 certified cheque bounces

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An Ontario man said his jaw dropped when a bank teller would not accept the certified cheque he was given after selling his vehicle for $22,000.

"She said, 'I'm sorry, this is a fake cheque, we can't accept it,' and I was like shocked. I just couldn't believe it," Tari Baban, of Kitchener, Ont., told CTV News Toronto.

Baban had purchased a 2017 Polaris Slingshot about a year and a half ago. This particular vehicle is classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle, but has the thrill of driving a motorcycle and a sports car combined.

"I bought it to have on the weekend for fun. That was the only reason I wanted to buy the Slingshot," said Baban.

Baban said while he liked the vehicle, a family member in Iraq needed money for an operation, and he decided to sell it to help them pay their medical bills.

In June, he said someone expressed interest in buying it, but the buyer said they could only come at night. Then, one Thursday evening, a man and woman showed up to purchase it at the agreed price of $22,000.

"He came with his wife, and they were a very nice couple and very friendly. He had a certified cheque, and I checked the certified cheque, and it looked exactly like a certified cheque should," said Baban.

The next day, Baban took the certified cheque to his bank, and that's when he learned he'd been scammed.

"My jaw dropped. They were in the back looking at the cheque and then came out and said it was fake. I couldn't believe it," said Baban.

He filed a police report, listing the vehicle as stolen, which he thought would help him get the Slingshot covered by his insurance policy.

"This car has been stolen, according to the police report. I still have the ownership, and the car is still in my name," said Baban.

A spokesperson for The Co-Operators, Baban's insurance company, told CTV News Toronto that while the situation is unfortunate, the Ontario Automobile Policy does not include loss or damage from this kind of fraud.

"The Ontario Automobile Policy, which is a regulation under the Ontario Insurance Act that provides standard language for all vehicle insurance policies in Ontario, states that coverage is not available for loss or damage resulting from a dishonest claim of ownership, illegal disposal, or theft of the automobile by anyone who has legal possession of it under a written agreement (a mortgage, conditional sale, lease or other similar agreement) or a change in ownership that is agreed to, even if that change was brought about by trickery or fraud," the statement reads.

"For clarity, the Ontario Automobile Policy includes this example: Late one evening at a party, you sell your car to a stranger in return for a cheque. A week later, the cheque bounces. We will not cover the loss."

Baban also contacted his bank, TD, which told him he shouldn't have accepted a cheque from someone he didn't know.

"As scammers continue to employ increasingly advanced techniques, a best practice is to confirm a payment is legitimate with your financial institution before releasing any valuable property during a sale," a TD Bank spokesperson told CTV News Toronto.

"Whether you are accepting funds or making payments, it is always important to be comfortable with the transaction and aware of/know who you are accepting funds from. If receiving funds as payment for a sale or work completed, do not accept cheques from sources that are not known to you or that you do not fully trust. It is advisable to opt for wire payments and direct deposit instead and, when possible, conduct the transaction at a financial institution where both the seller and the buyer are present."

Baban said he was shocked he lost that money, adding he will never accept a certified cheque again.

"I've been trying to help people as much as I can all my life. I've been really, really, hurt by this, and it made me decide to not trust anyone anymore," said Baban. 

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