Calgary not-for-profit battles big bank after fraudsters make off with $50K

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The Calgary Curling Club is ramping up its battle against ATB Financial after it said it was defrauded out of $50,000.

The club’s general manager Bob Genoway told Global News he was first alerted to the fraud last March after he tried to get into the organization’s banking account. He said he kept on being denied access, so he contacted ATB.

Genoway said Alberta’s largest financial institution told him that he had allowed someone else access to the accounts and allowed them to wire transfer the money to a U.S. bank. He denied that, adding the club has second-level authentication and that he had not allowed anything.

He added ATB also told him he had changed the “officers” on the accounts — just another, he said, of many red flags.

“Isaac Newton as treasurer,” he said incredulously. “Sending U.S. funds in large amounts … Like that’s just not our business.”

“The thing that was puzzling is that we don’t do wire transfers. We don’t work with U.S. funds. We don’t deal with $50,000 transactions,” he pointed out. “We’re a non-profit organization so that was all very unusual.”

The Calgary Curling Club escalated this case three times according to Genoway. But a year later, there still isn’t a resolution.

“It’s been a year of us trying to capture that money,’ he said. “I can’t tell you how frustrating it’s been.”

ATB’s response

ATB wouldn’t share the findings of its investigation with Global News, citing privacy issues.

However, in a statement it said, “ATB Financial is committed to ensuring the security of our clients’ information and banking.”

The financial institution, which started in 1938 as a treasury branch in the province of Alberta, added it takes a “very proactive approach in providing fraud education to our clients,” and provided tips on how to avoid scams.

The Calgary Curling Club, which has been a client of ATB for the past 30 years, said it followed all protocols and wants its money back.

“That’s an important amount of money,” Genoway said. “Being a non-profit organization, we’re trying to provide services at the most reasonably priced, affordable prices to all age levels and losing $50,000 impacts us greatly.”

Bank and financial fraud

Vanessa Iafolla is the principal at Halifax-based Anti-Fraud Intelligence Consulting. She told Global News, in general terms and not specific to this case, financial fraud is one of the most common kinds of victimization being seen in Canada right now.

“If you’re in a position to have money, make money, use money — you are in a position to be victimized,” she said.

Iafolla pointed out humans create banking systems which can fail, and it’s simply “not possible” to have financial fraud completely eradicated despite the advances in technology.

“Those systems, again, they don’t always work as well as they should,” she said. “And the problem is that when they fail, for some victims they can fail in some ways that are utterly life-changing.”

Iafolla added she believed financial fraud will only get worse, due in large part to scammers getting better. She also believes artificial intelligence (AI) will be a game changer, but not for the better.

As for many banks, she said getting money back after being scammed is an “extraordinary feat,” one she’d like to see changed.

This article was originally sourced from www.globalnews.ca