'I thought I was calling Facebook': Scammers trick man with autism out of $30K
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, September 5, 2017 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 6, 2017 9:05AM PDT
The iTunes gift card scam has struck again. This time, a North Vancouver man with autism has been tricked out of $30,000. His family is both outraged and disappointed that more checks and balances aren’t in place to protect vulnerable people. They claim his credit card company and the retailers where he bought the gift cards could have done more.
When Kevin Geant was locked out of his Facebook account, he was told to buy iTunes gift cards to pay to get it fixed.
“I thought I was calling Facebook,” he said, “They said my account had been hacked and I had to purchase iTunes cards to get my account and block the hackers.”
But he wasn’t calling Facebook. It was a fake number. He then went out and racked up thousands of dollars in charges on his credit card at local pharmacies and grocery stores.
“I came back and read the numbers over the phone,” Geant explained.
The culprits kept manipulating him for three weeks until his stepbrother intervened.
“I feel very protective of my brother,” said Frances Hugh, “He has autism and we need to look after him.”
Geant, however, had hidden the receipts and the cards.
“They will play on your emotions and your vulnerability and it is a criminal act," said Cpl. Richard de Jong of the North Vancouver RCMP.
Apple has issued warnings about iTunes gift card scams in the past and has alerted retailers to help prevent fraud.
But that didn’t stop Geant from spending hundreds of dollars in purchases over and over again at grocery stores and pharmacies. There were multiple hits on his credit card, some within hours of each other at the same locations and for amounts up to $2,000.
When his credit card maxed out, he started using cash.
"They [TD Mastercard] should have flagged it," said Hugh.
Once the family intervened, a claim was filed, which TD denied. McLaughlin on Your Side reached out to the bank, which then got in touch with the family.
The money charged was credited back after the appeal was launched.
"We're talking about $19,628,” said Hugh.
The family is grateful to TD bank and CTV News.
“Well, you made the difference. My parents are just absolutely ecstatic. They are super grateful for your help,” Hugh told CTV’s Ross McLaughlin.
As for Geant?
“I’m feeling a lot better about it. I’ll not let it happen again,” he promised.
TD Bank told CTV News it was sympathetic to what had happened and escalated action as soon as they heard about it.
The iTunes gift card scam has been going around for years. On Wednesday, McLaughlin on Your Side goes undercover to see if retailers try to prevent this type of fraud, by asking questions when purchasing large sums of iTunes cards.