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Ontario woman loses $3,000 trying to online bank

An Ontario woman who planned to do some online banking during a lunch break said she was shocked to find out she was scammed out of $3,000.

“This website looked identical to the Bank of Montreal. I mean identical,” Bruna Capretta, of Hamilton, Ont., told CTV News Toronto.

One day at work back in June this year, Capretta said she logged onto a company computer to Google the name of her bank, and what appeared to be her bank’s official website popped up.

“I opened up Google, I typed in Bank of Montreal, and it took me right to it, the website, or what I thought was the BMO website,” said Capretta.

Capretta set up her account to receive a one-time passcode when she signed in. When she received an emailed code, she entered it — but she said hackers immediately took over her bank account.

“As soon as I put in that passcode, I literally just blinked, and $3,000 was gone from my account,” said Capretta.

Scammers used an e-transfer to send themselves the $3,000. The fraudulent website was made to look exactly like her bank’s web sign-in page.

“My IT department said it was duplicated, so that website was made to look exactly like the Bank of Montreal website,” said Capretta. “As soon as that happened and my money was taken, the website was gone. It was taken down immediately.”

After an investigation, BMO denied Capretta for reimbursement. A BMO spokesperson told CTV News Toronto in a statement they encourage customers to call police if they think they have been a target of fraud so the bank can support the investigation and help recover lost funds.

“Given the priority we place on customer confidentiality, we’re unable to disclose details of these specific matters,” the statement reads.

“With telephone fraud and digital crime on the rise, it is important to remember that protecting accounts is a partnership between customers and their bank. It is the customer’s responsibility to protect their account information, mobile/online banking passwords and PIN information at all times.”

Ritesh Kotak, a cybersecurity and technology expert, told CTV News Toronto that “browser redirects are more common than people realize.”

Kotak said criminals create fake banking websites to steal your identity and money.

“You think you’re going to the exact (banking) website because it’s an exact replica or copy, but in actuality, it’s actually controlled by hackers,” said Kotak.

To avoid bank scams, don’t bank on public computers, always use anti-virus protection, and ensure the URL address is correct and secure.

Kotak also advises using banking apps that are more secure and updated with security patches to help stop hackers.

Capretta feels banks need to do more to protect their customers from scams.

“There needs to be better security because the criminals are getting smarter, and the banks need to get smarter,” said Capretta.  

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