Vancouver Island woman urges caution after being duped of $95K IG News

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After being duped of $95,000 six months ago, a Nanaimo woman is warning others to be careful who you share your personal information with.

Jennifer Hiltz says she first learned of the fraud when Prefera Finance called her at work about an overdue payment on a $50,000 loan for two C-Do’s.

“I’ve never been on C-Doo. I didn’t take out a loan. If you look at my credit history, it’s out of character for me as well.”

“They’re not my loans. So I’m not going to pay them a dime.”

She is only now regaining financial control, with some, but not all, debts being erased from her TransUnion credit report.

She says that the impostor was someone she trusted and thought she knew.

A woman plays with her daughter by the sea on Departure Bay Beach.
Hiltz has been told it might be easier to repossess the assets if she pursues a civil case, but as a single mother, she says she simply doesn’t have the time. (Claire Palmer / CBC News)

Hiltz says the man first approached the food cart she’s been running for a few years. They bonded over the fact that they had both recently moved to Nanaimo and that their children were the same age.

Over the summer, she says the man kept suggesting she sign up as a driver for Skip the Dishes to supplement her income. He told her she could refer him and offered to split the $50 referral reward.

When she had difficulty uploading her driver’s license to the business’s online portal, Hiltz said her friend offered to scan it for her.

That’s all it took.

it’s easy to be a victim of fraud

Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Gary O’Brien said it’s surprisingly easy to fall prey to the scam.

“They’ve got his picture. You can put it on a credit card or fake ID.

“The fraudster went to a bank or some other lending institution. They got the money, and guess what? Boom. Credit line in his name.”

Since October, two loan companies, including Prefera, and a fake merchant service bank account – which enables a business to accept debit and credit cards and other contactless payments – have contacted her for loan payments totaling $95,000 Is.

A bailiff was also sent to his workplace to repair the C-Doos, which he does not have.

Based on his conversation with the person, he suspects that the fraud took place in late August last year.

She has assembled a file folder worth of evidence for her case, such as loan statements with falsified information and voided checks from RBC, with whom she does not bank. Despite her espionage, she says it is still proving difficult to clear her name.

According to Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, which serves Vancouver Island, this type of fraud is very common.

Prevention is key — once fraud is committed, Scott says it’s too late. Especially if there is a pre-existing relationship with the fraudster. This can become a he-said-she-said situation, and it becomes difficult to prove that fraud has been committed.

“It’s very sad that we see this, and that person can be a willing participant without being a willing participant,” Scott said.

“These types of cases break your heart. It is difficult for banks or loan companies to intervene after the fact, which is why we ask people to be safe with their information, no matter how much you Why not be closer?”

Going forward

Hiltz says she still wants to see the impostor brought to justice for what happened to her. He is encouraged to pursue the civil case as the criminal case is spread across multiple jurisdictions.

The $95,000 in loans taken out in her name were from companies in both Alberta and Ontario, and she was told that a criminal case could take some time because police would have to coordinate across provinces.

Scott says that it is not unusual for criminal investigations to be lengthy in fraud, because of the difficulty of providing evidence when a friendship has already taken place.

A woman sits on a picnic bench by the ocean doing paperwork.
Jennifer Hiltz says she was the victim of a $95,000 fraud at the hands of someone she trusted and knew. All it took was a scan of his driving license. (Claire Palmer/CBC)

Hiltz says that as a single mother, she doesn’t have the time or finances to pursue a civil case.

“It’s been emotional. I want justice for whoever did this to me.

“That’s the biggest thing – when someone just befriends you to take advantage and use your credit for their own personal gain. That’s been the saddest thing for me.”


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