Ontario man who accidentally transferred $19,000 to stranger's account left for weeks without solution
An Ontario man says he has been fighting to get back $19,000 for months after making a "simple mistake” while trying to transfer money between two of his bank accounts.
Milton, Ont. man Roberto Guardado said he had just purchased a new home and in September was trying to transfer money from his Bank of Montreal (BMO) account to his CIBC account so that he could make the down payment.
He said he called BMO to arrange the wire transfer, figuring it would be the easiest way to move the funds to CIBC.
Guardado said he has two bank accounts with CIBC, one for his personal savings and one for business. He was trying to transfer the money into the savings account.
He said while making the transfer, he correctly read out his CIBC savings account number, but mistakenly gave the transit number of his CIBC business account.
The five-digit transit number helps the bank identify which branch the money is being sent to.
The mistake resulted in Guardado's money being sent to a stranger's CIBC account, he said.
"I noticed the money went out but it didn't go into my CIBC account," Guardado told CTV News Toronto. "So I went home that day and I started looking on my computer and then I realized I gave the wrong transit number."
He said he immediately called BMO, who told him they would launch an investigation.
Despite calling the bank every few days for an update, he said it took five weeks before he got any answers.
Guardado said he was told that his $19,000 was deposited into someone else's account and the person had withdrawn it.
He said both BMO and CIBC told him nothing further could be done to retrieve his money.
"I couldn't believe I made the mistake," Guardado said.
Guardado said he called the police, but was also told that because he initiated the transfer there was nothing to investigate.
A Bank of Montreal sign is pictured in North Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, April, 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
"The police told me that because it's not considered fraud they can't do anything about it," he said.
'JUST A SIMPLE MISTAKE'
Guardado said that while he fully admits the error was his fault, he doesn't understand why the bank couldn't help him quickly reverse the transfer.
"It was just a simple mistake and my money ended in someone else's account," Guardado said.
Because of the lost money, Guardado said he had no choice but to back out of the sale of his new home.
Shortly after CTV News Toronto contacted CIBC and BMO about Guardado's situation, he said he received a call from the banks telling him his $19,000 would be returned to his account.
CIBC spokesperson Trish Tervit confirmed on Saturday they had resolved the issue with Guardado.
"It's important that when transferring funds between financial institutions that the sender ensures the recipient account number is correct as misdirected funds may be difficult to recover," Tervit added.
Guardado said CIBC told him this is a "unique situation" that is being resolved on a one-time basis.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from BMO said they had a "good conversation" with Guardado, but couldn't comment further for privacy reasons.
While this stressful two-month chapter is now over for Guardado, he said banks "have to come up with a better system" for when people make mistakes.
"It was a stupid mistake on my part, but the process to fix it has to be easier," he said. "I was so stressed that I lost weight and I couldn't sleep. It was bothering me so much."
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