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Ontario woman charged almost $7,000 for 20-minute taxi ride abroad

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An Ontario woman was shocked to find she’d been charged nearly $7,000 after unknowingly using an unauthorized taxi company on the first leg of a trip to Antarctica.

"Our first stop was in Santiago, Chile and that's unfortunately where we got scammed” Pat Shacklady, of Midland, Ont., told CTV News Toronto. 

Shacklady told CTV News Toronto that she and a friend had pre-booked a taxi to pick them up at the Santiago Airport in January.

Pat Shacklady, seen above, was shocked to find she'd been charged $7,000 after unknowingly using an unauthorized taxi company on the first leg of a trip to Antarctica. (Handout)

Instead, she said they were convinced upon arrival that their driver had been in a crash and were redirected to a different company.

Shacklady said the pair offered to pay cash; “They said no, unfortunately. They didn't take cash, we had to pay with a credit card."

She was handed a receipt for $45,000 Chilean pesos, about $62, and proceeded with her trip, she said.

But when Shacklady returned home, her credit card statement showed a charge for $6,943.

“When I got home and looked at my bank account, I almost had a heart attack," she said.

When Shacklady contacted the Bank of Montreal (BMO), her claim was initially denied and she was told she would not be reimbursed.

"If it was just $200, I would say okay I was scammed for that, but $7,000, that's a lot of money," she said.

The Government of Canada currently has a travel advisory in place warning travellers to Chile of taxi scams. On its website, it states there have been reports of fraud near airports and advises only using taxis in designated areas and always checking the amount on the card reader before paying. It also suggests avoiding taxis without a meter.

CTV News reached out to BMO and a spokesperson said they were reviewing Shacklady's case. They later confirmed to CTV News the $6,943 would be reimbursed back to her card.

"I’m over the moon because that is an awful lot of money. It’s a huge relief,” Shacklady said.

Pat Shacklady, seen above, was shocked to find she'd been charged $7,000 after unknowingly using an unauthorized taxi company on the first leg of a trip to Antarctica. (Handout)

In a statement to CTV News, a BMO spokesperson said it is “pleased that the customer’s issue with the merchant was resolved through the standard dispute handling process.”

“We encourage customers and cardholders to be diligent – particularly while travelling – and regularly check their activity and statements to ensure they are able to confirm and validate all charges,” the statement reads.

It's a good habit to never let your credit card out of your sight wherever you are, as that's when a scammer could try to put through additional charges without your knowledge.

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