A Saskatoon woman says she’s still waiting on answers after learning someone defrauded her and drained almost her entire bank account.
Krista Neufeldt banks at the Royal Bank of Canada branch on Lenore Drive. She said her husband went in on March 27 to check if his disability cheque had been deposited into their joint chequing account.
“He just sent me a screenshot and said, ‘What’s going on here?’” Neufeldt said.
Their account had been cleared of $6,150. All that was left was several hundred dollars in overdraft.
Neufeldt said she immediately called the national RBC line and had her accounts frozen. She then called the fraud line and reported the theft to police.
“It looks like it was a telephone banking transaction that somebody impersonated myself.”
She learned the theft happened March 26, with the money apparently being sent to a company called Tenant Pay.
She said she was shocked — first, that anyone could even still bank over the phone — and secondly, how that was possible without passwords or other key information.
Moreover, she said she was made to feel like it was her fault. Neufeldt added she still doesn’t know how exactly the scam unfolded.
“It’s concerning to me,” she said. “No one has given us any answers and we don’t know how to protect ourselves in the future from this happening.”
On its website, Tenant Pay advertises itself as an online rental payment company. Neufeldt said the company was somehow added as a payee on her account.
She said she didn’t have any prior involvement with the company and didn’t know if it was directly involved in the fraud.
“I have a feeling they were just used as well.”
Tom Lennox, the founder of Tenant Pay, told 650 CKOM he’s spoken to Neufeldt about the case. He added in more than a decade of running the business, this is a first.
“This would all have to be internal with the banks in order for somebody to attempt anything like this,” he said.
“The tenant has to add Tenant Pay to their payee list, just like they would utilities bills.”
Not the only victim
Neufeldt told 650 CKOM an acquaintance of hers, who banks at the same branch, also found their bank account drained four days later.
While the family doesn’t want to speak publicly, a Facebook post shared with 650 CKOM details a story similar to Neufeldt’s, without citing where the money was directed.
“As soon as I found out another person had been affected in the exact same way, it made me even more upset because it wasn’t flagged,” Neufedlt said.
“She had seen my post on Facebook and called me to say, ‘Is this what happened to you?’”
Neufeldt noted whoever is behind the scams seemed to know when large sums of money were being deposited. For her, it was the day she received her tax return. She says the other victim was targeted on pay day.
“It also made me wonder how many other people this is happening to that I don’t know,” she said.
In a email statement, RBC said it’s investigating the fraud and working closely with Neufeldt.
“We understand how concerning identity theft can be,” the statement read. “We have fully reimbursed the individuals impacted for their loss.”
The RBC statement noted identity theft is an industry-wide problem, and one of the fastest-growing crimes in North America. “Cases involve, but are not limited to, accessing individual financial accounts, opening new credit card accounts, writing cheques, opening bank accounts or obtaining new loans etc.”
People can find tips to safeguard themselves from identity theft online.
The Saskatoon police economic crime unit is also investigating Neufeldt’s case.
TD Bank customer impacted
On the morning of March 16, Lexie Craig checked her balance and noticed $600 was missing.
Craig told 650 CKOM she contacted TD Bank after seeing the money went to a company called Wear.
“I didn’t make that transfer, I didn’t authorize it,” Craig said. “They were looking into my banking information and noticed that two payees were added.”
According to Craig, the bank said someone who claimed to be her had set up the new payees, that turned to not be a legitimate company.
“It’s frightening that someone can call in pretending to be you and then steal your money,” Craig said.
What makes matters worse is Craig says usually you need a special passcode to do any banking over the phone.
Craig did not report the incident to police and TD bank got the money back to her within a week.