Fraud victim blames government for student loan privacy breach
VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver woman who’s been defrauded of thousands of dollars says she’ll be victimized for life and isn't getting any help from the people she feels are responsible.
The federal government was sued over a lost student loan hard drive that contained the private information of thousands of students, including Leona Han.
In November, Han was targeted by fraudsters who had somehow obtained her phone number.
“They tricked me,” she said.
Han said the fraudsters also had her social insurance number and knew her legal name. They claimed bank accounts had been set up in her name to launder money and convinced her to test her accounts to prove it wasn’t her.
Han was told if she didn't comply, she'd be arrested.
“I got really panicky,” Han said. “They were telling me, do not hang up. If you hang up the phone this is considered like federal crime.”
So she withdrew more than $8,000 and took it to a local convenience store in Vancouver to transfer it into a Bitcoin machine.
Shop owner Kourosh Pourshahnazari remembered her and says he’s seen this type of thing before.
“They just panic,” he said. “Once you’re in a panic mode – done."
After Han had transferred the money, she had time to think about what she had done. And while she felt stupid about being duped, she began wondeirng how the frauders obtained her information in the first place.
“I only can think of the government and the student loan case. The hard drive disappeared,” Han said.
“The more information they have, the more convincing they are, of course,” said Pourshahnazari.
In 2018, the federal government settled a class action lawsuit over the lost student hard drive. Han was notified that she would receive $60 as part of the settlement. However, she could file a claim for actual losses but she had to file within six months and the deadline had passed at the end of January 2019.
“How could you put a stop when the criminals would use our information?” she asked. “These criminals could be got my information could be circulating it, they could be selling it to another criminal. So this is what’s happening right now.”
CTV News made several attempts to reach the lawyers that handled the class action a case but we never got a response. The federal government wouldn’t budge and make an exception for Han and now she fears for the future.
“I’m doomed for life,” she said.
Pourshahnazari says he tries to warn people and there are warnings as well on the Bitcoin machine in his shop.
“It’s fraud, basically fraud. Don’t panic, calm down and think about it,” he added.