An Ottawa senior is out thousands of dollars after she fell victim to a telephone banking scam.
It took just one phone call for Maureen Maguss to lose $15,000 last fall.
“I worked a long time to give myself some comfortable living,” Maguss tells CTV News Ottawa.
She says she’s the victim of a telephone banking scam, which all started because of a phone call.
In October, she returned a voice message left on her landline phone. Maguss believed it was legitimate over fraudulent activity on her Visa line of credit.
“That there was some fraud on my card for about $1,300 for a purse, that I would never spend,” she says.
Maguss recently travelled to the United States to visit a friend, so when the person on the other end of the phone asked if she had travelled anywhere, it made the call seem even more legitimate.
The caller seemed to know some details about Maguss, and asked to verify the rest.
“It’s the bank. They knew my mother’s maiden name, they knew a certain amount of numbers, they knew part of my social insurance number, all these things which made sense to me.”
However, it wasn’t the bank that called her.
“Turns out it wasn’t. It was a fraudster,” she says.
Maguss says the fraudsters then had her enter a code and phone number on her landline – possibly forwarding her incoming calls to the scammers, including ones from her actual bank.
When she realized the next day that something just did not feel right, “I cancelled the card, I cancelled my access card, I stopped everything.”
She contacted the fraud department at Scotiabank by calling the number on the back of her banking card. However, Maguss said within days, multiple transactions did go through totalling $15,000.
In an email statement to CTV News Ottawa, a spokesperson for Scotiabank says they’re unable to comment on individual customer matters because of privacy, but did provide suggestions on how to prevent fraud.
“We encourage our customers to be cautious of suspicious websites, text messages, phone calls, or emails that appear to represent trusted organizations requesting personal or financial information,” Scotiabank said.
“While appearing legitimate, these can be malicious attempts to collect information for the purpose of committing fraud. If a customer believes they have been a victim of fraud, we encourage them to report it to us immediately at 1-866-625-0561.”
There are steps you can take to protect yourself. Ottawa Police say when in doubt, just hang up on suspicious calls.
“They are so organized now that sometimes the call display on your phone will even show that it’s coming from your bank or from your credit card company,” Ottawa Police Sgt. Chantal Arsenault said.
“But, you cannot take this as a guarantee that it is. You have to make your own research, you have to look up the number yourself and call the bank yourself.”
You can also call or visit 211.ca. Arsenault says it’s a service that can help you find the right person to contact.
Police say there are thousands of victims each year.
“Usually once the money is gone, it’s gone,” Arsenault said.
Maguss is still hopeful she will get her money back, and wants the bank to reverse the charges,
“I never thought I would fall victim to something like this, but it’s a trust factor that I have always been brought up with.”