Easy Money – Hard Lesson

by Jasmine Gill

Jasleen Kaur came to Canada as an international student in April 2020. She is doing a business diploma from Canadore College. However she learned a hard lesson in the wrong kind of business.  Toronto Police Fraud Investigator Julie Campbell says many cash strapped students get trapped into these scams for easy money, but there is no such thing as easy money.

Soon after Kaur’s arrival, she saw a job posting for a researcher’s assistant on Facebook. The profile of the alleged employer appeared legitimate. Later that day, the person messaged her back asking for details, making it look like a professional interview. Jasleen says the job seemed very easy; all she had to do was buy Amazon gift cards from a local store and send him the codes. The fraudster offered her CAD 50 per visit to the store. The “employer” sent her an E-cheque to buy the gift cards. But, the cheque was put on hold by the bank. She says maybe it was fate telling her to stop, but instead, she decided to use her credit card, thinking she would eventually get the money back.

According to her, it was easy money, with minimal effort.

The following day, she received a cheque from a bizarre name, but she did not pay attention to it at that time because her excitement at filling her pockets with easy money took over. The employer asked her to buy Amazon gift cards worth $1000CAD. The strangest thing for her was when the employer was constantly messaging her asking where she was and if she had bought the cards or not. Kaur thought maybe he was scared for the money.
She was getting suspicious and decided to quit. She wanted to complete that task, as she says, “I committed; I had to do that day’s chores.”
Kaur was relieved that she doesn’t have to do that work anymore.
It felt dangerous to her like she was doing something illegal, which according to Campbell, is unlawful; she says that receiving the money is part of a whole different scam. The victims end up getting arrested because they are collecting money in that scam.

Julie Campbell,  Fraud investigator

A few days passed, and the bank called that her account was on hold because she supposedly stole $1000CAD from Scotiabank. The moment she realized she had been a victim, she was devastated.
She contacted the bank, but the authorities said there was nothing they could do about it now. The bank informed her that the money her “employer”sent her was stolen from another person’s bank account. She would have to pay it back.  As per the bank guidelines, whenever a person deposits a cheque electronically, the bank puts it on hold for 3-5 business days to verify it.

She also reached out to Toronto Police but got the same response. The fraud department said that there was only a 1% chance of finding that Scammer.
Campbell says these scams are more likely to happen with students. People contact the victims online asking if they want to earn easy money and sending them e-transfers to get gift cards or bitcoins.

Every year millions of people lose their money in internet frauds. Hopefully, this will help you be more alert and ensure that you never lose money to fraud. But for Jasleen, Despite all the evidence and efforts, she had to re-pay $1000 to the bank from her pocket.

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