Family devastated after cyberthieves steal $10,000 from bank account

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Alana Regnier says her family is reeling after thousands of dollars were stolen from their bank account.

Regnier, who is originally from Unity, Sask., has been living in Calgary with her husband Caleb and two young children. Their dream is to one day own a house of their own.

She said she made the difficult decision to go back to work part-time after the birth of her second child. Regnier said she was able to put in about 600 hours of work with a non-profit and managed to save about $10,000 to go toward a down payment.

Then on March 14, a routine check of her Bank of Montreal (BMO) account led her to the shocking discovery that $10,000 had disappeared, she said.

“It was really devastating, we were completely shocked,” Regnier said. “Our money’s gone.” 

Regnier said the loss of her family’s money was heartbreaking, especially when she factored in the lost time with her young children.

“It’s years of savings and we’ve been feeling very, fearful these past couple of months, like from gas to groceries,” she said.

The Regniers are among more than 100 Bank of Montreal customers who say they’ve had money transferred from their accounts without their authorization. BMO clients from all over Canada have reported a collective $1.5 million in losses, and some say they are working on a class-action lawsuit.

CBC has previously spoken to others planning to be involved in the proposed lawsuit. Many, like the Regniers, say they are depressed and having sleepless nights wondering if they’ll ever get their hard-earned money back.

CBC asked BMO what it is doing about the fraud. The bank said it is “determined” to work with government and policymakers “to help Canadians defend themselves against scams.”

“We are always open to reviewing cases when new information becomes available and will be reaching out to our customer to discuss this matter,” BMO said in a statement.

CBC contacted three lawyers who specialize in cybercrime and data privacy for this story. All three said they couldn’t comment because of a conflict of interest.

The Regniers say they have no clue how someone got access to their bank account. One day the money was there and the next it had vanished, they say.

Caleb Regnier said the bank told the family that it was their own fault because the transaction happened from their device and IP address. He said it felt like the bank was blaming the victim and not taking responsibility.

The Regniers say they have been in contact with a group of other BMO customers who’ve been defrauded and looked into the proposed class action, but are uncertain what will happen, as the group hasn’t found a law firm to represent it yet.

A representative of the group looking to launch the class action told CBC in an email that the group is growing and that class actions take a long time to establish, but the plan is still to bring a suit against BMO.

For the Regniers, the act of rebuilding years of saving while they wait for justice is daunting.

“It was extremely defeating. As I spoke to other people in our group, who have had this happen a year or two ago and are still being told they’re not going to get reimbursed, it’s terrifying,” Caleb said.

This article was originally sourced from www.CBCNews.ca