E-transfer sent to the wrong person? The money could be gone for good

Two Ontario residents are warning others to double check their Interac e-transfers recipients before they send the transfers after they lost money making the same mistake.

While Interac says the vast majority of e-transfers are sent without any issues, if you send an e-transfer to the wrong person, it can be difficult to get the money back.

“This is not a case of a fraudster, this is not a scammer, this is just me making a mistake,” Kestrel Gibson of Toronto told CTV News Toronto..

Gibson meant to transfer $3,000 from one of her accounts to another account, but she accidentally sent it to her old phone number, a number that now belongs to someone else.

That person received her funds and, because they had auto deposit set up, the money was automatically deposited into their account.

“Because I had her phone number, I called her and she answered the phone and listened to what I had to say, but then she hung up on me and she hasn’t taken any of my calls since,” Gibson said.

Tim Heffernan of Toronto owed his accountant $2,700 for services and sent him two e-transfers, but he accidentally sent it to someone on his payee list he did business with seven years ago, who had a name that was almost the same except for one letter.

“I was very frustrated for making the mistake in the first place,” Heffernan said, adding, “I almost immediately recognized it was a mistake and that I had sent it to the wrong person.”

Interac says e-transfers are like sending cash, so users must make sure they have the correct details before hitting send.

“We always encourage them to double check who you are sending it to, are those details accurate and if it’s auto deposit validate the legal name. These are the best practices,” Anurag Kar, the associate vice president of Interac Corporation, told CTV News Toronto.

Kar said Interac is the network that facilitates payments, and that any mistakes sending e-transfers should be reported to your bank.

“Your first step should always be to reach out to your financial institution and they can start their process on their side of investigating what happened to the money,” he said.

In Heffernan’s case, the person sent back $2,000 but kept $700 and he is hopeful they will send the rest.

Gibson’s appeal to her bank for the return of her funds was denied, but the bank agreed to review her case again after being contacted by CTV News Toronto.

Gibson said if she has to she will go to small claims court to get her $3,000.

“That’s my hard earned money and I would like to get that back.”

Interac said currently nine out of ten people send e-transfers and the number continues to grow each year with 49 per cent of customers doing it more often since the beginning of the pandemic.

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