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Fraudsters steal $98K from disabled teen's account

Fraudsters steal $98K from disabled teen's account
Fraudsters steal $98K from disabled teen's account

ملفات اخبار العرب24-كندا: Dr. David Lasner is pictured outside of the Mission Memorial Hospital where he works as an emergency room physician. Lasner said a joint account he holds with his 16-year-old disabled daughter at Manulife Bank had $98,000 stolen from it. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A Metro Vancouver doctor is speaking out after fraudsters stole $98,000 out of a joint Manulife Bank savings account that was set up for his disabled 16-year-old daughter.

David Lasner says thieves were able to transfer $49,000 out of the account on Oct. 2, and again on Oct. 8, moving the money to two different Toronto Dominion accounts that had been fraudulently set up in his name and linked to the Manulife account.

"[I] just think the story is how vulnerable people are," said Lasner. "This was never picked up by [the Manulife] fraud team until I alerted them."

Lasner said he rarely looks at the account because it holds funds that have been put aside for his daughter's future. Luckily, his financial adviser did notice the transactions and sounded the alarm.

"He said, hey, did you change your address and did you withdraw this amount of money from your bank account? I said no. Then he says, well, there's a new address on your account and it's in Ontario." 

Lasner said he immediately contacted Manulife, but was initially told by the fraud department that it wasn't the bank's fault that someone had accessed his account.

Fake accounts and fake cheques

From what he's been able to piece together, thieves were able to get into the Manulife account, change his password, address, cell number and email address. They then linked it to the fraudulent TD accounts and transferred the money out.

According to Lasner, Manulife told him that fraudulent voided TD cheques were used to link the accounts. TD denies ever issuing the cheques and told Lasner no accounts were ever opened in his name.

In an even stranger twist, Lasner has learned that thieves also linked a fraudulent President's Choice bank account to his Manulife account. But in that instance the criminals transferred $18,000 into his Manulife account, before quickly reversing the transaction. 

Lasner says he wanted to make his story public to serve as a cautionary tale to others. "[I] just think the story is how vulnerable people are," he said. "This was never picked up by [the Manulife] fraud team until I alerted them." (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Manulife didn't respond to a request for an interview or answer questions submitted by CBC. 

Instead, Manulife's assistant vice president of global communications sent a statement saying the bank takes the security of its customers' data very seriously.

"While this situation was not a failure of our system, it's always unfortunate when an individual is a victim of fraud and has their credentials stolen," wrote Sean Pasternak. "We thoroughly investigate any fraud that impacts our customers' accounts, and we take action immediately to help prevent further impact."

Lasner was credited $98,000 by Manulife Bank on Nov. 13. The bank told Lasner it had completed its investigation but didn't share any of the findings with him.

As a security measure, Manulife also informed him it was changing the numbers on the five accounts he holds with the bank, although when it did, Lasner was dismayed to see the fraudster accounts remained linked to his daughter's account. 

"I had to actually phone them and say hello, you know these fraudulent accounts are still linked to my new bank account number. An they're like, oh, OK."

Lasner reported the crime to the RCMP and an investigation has been opened. Even though his daughter's account has been made whole, he says he'd like the story to serve as a cautionary tail.

"It's just frustrating how it can happen," he said. "It makes you wonder going forward about the security of my money and everybody else's money."

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