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Ontario woman seeking part-time work 'living in a nightmare' after losing $395,000 to job scam

An Ontario woman looking for a part-time job is devastated after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to an employment scam.

"It's very difficult right now, and I feel like I'm living a nightmare," said a Toronto woman, who asked CTV News Toronto to refer to her as Imran.

Imran said she was looking to make some extra money and found a part-time job on social media that claimed she could make up to $400 an hour.

The supposed job entailed working with software and optimizing apps, but Imran said she was told to put down some of her money first to prove she was a real person, not a bot.

Initially, she said she paid $700 toward the company's platform and watched the amount grow to about $1,700. Imran said she could withdraw some of the money, so she thought it was a legitimate company.

But, Imran said it became almost impossible to withdraw funds from the platform over time.

"To get the money out, you need to put in more to finish the set of applications. When I would finish, I found out they were stalling the withdrawals," said Imran.

Over a few months, she said she was told to deposit more money, and she did. Imran says she put down $395,000 of her own money, thinking her account had grown to over US$605,000.

But, in the end, she could not take any of the money out and lost the entire $395,000, adding she borrowed $250,000 from family and friends.

"For someone to go through this, this is so devastating. I never want this to happen to someone else," said Imran.

CTV News Toronto was also contacted by a Toronto student who said he was involved in a similar job scam.

"I would tell them I need the money back. Why don't you give me the money back?" Danillo Pekoh said.

Pekoh said he also started putting in small amounts of money and could withdraw some of it, but after he deposited $1,700, his account was frozen, and he could not remove the funds.

"It means a lot because that's my hard-earned money, and that was money I was saving to pay for my tuition," said Pekoh.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), 1,230 victims lost $4,948,849 to job scams in 2022. So far in 2023, 592 victims have lost $2,712,390 to employment scams.

The CAFC says job scams are now a growing problem.

"There is a new variation of the job scam we've been keeping an eye on," said Jeff Horncastle with CAFC. "If they offer you a position very quickly and there is no interview, that should be a huge red flag."

Some other warning signs are if they ask for personal information and banking details upfront, advertise as a basic job with high pay, and ask for money in advance.

Another red flag is that all communication is on chat apps without phone calls or face-to-face meetings.

Imran said she hoped to make extra money but now has no idea how she'll get out of debt after losing $395,000 to the scam.

"It's just so devastating, and it's like everything we had is now gone, and we are starting over," said Imran. Top Stories

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