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'Need to put a stop to it': MP calls for action after B.C. senior scammed out of life savings


The calls for action around regulatory changes to better protect Canadians from fraud and cybercrime are growing, as the heartbreaking case of a Courtenay, B.C., senior is heard across the country.

“This should never be happening and we need to put a stop to it,” says Courtenay-Alberni member of parliament, Gord Johns.

Peggy Christian is in the process of moving and revising her budget which was cut by 50 per cent – after fraudsters scammed her out of her life savings of more than $100-thousand.

It started with a phone pitch to fix her computer in fall 2023 and progressed to her draining her investments to send wire transfers overseas.

“We need to make sure that what regulations and laws are in place now are improved upon,” says Johns.

His office has been in contact with Christian's family – and he says he’ll be bringing the topic to the house of commons once he's reviewed the details and makes cabinet ministers aware of her case.

“One of the biggest things for my sister is that she feels heard, finally. Because she wasn’t feeling heard through the bank,” says Christian's sister, Judy Huska.

The prevalence of scams and cybercrime is getting worse, reaching consecutive highs.

According to RCMP and data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians lost $567 million in 2023 alone. That was an increase of $37 million from 2022 and $187 million since 2021.

An RCMP release in February 2024 for fraud prevention awareness month also said the rise in losses is despite the fact only five to 10 per cent of cases are believed to be reported.

“It’s absolutely devastating, humiliating, embarrassing that it can happen,” another victim, Peter Squire, told CTV News.

The retired Winnipegger says he lost his nest egg to an investment scam, where someone falsely claimed they were a senior portfolio manager from a major Canadian bank.

“I ended up sending two wires worth over $600,000 to what turned out to be a mule account,” says Squire. “And then it went offshore.”

He’s since laid some of the groundwork lobbying the federal government for a systemic review and reforms.

He pushed a petition to the house of commons through his MP last spring.

“I am convinced that Canada can do much better from what I’ve learned. And certainly that includes our banks and credit unions and their practices. Not just training but of the enforcement around it and protocols,” says Squire.

“The ‘confirmation of payee’ to me should be a standard requirement in Canada,” he adds.

It’s an account checking service that’s designed to ensure transfers are sent to the intended person.

“Clearly what’s happening now isn’t enough,” says Johns.

The federal representative says on top of reviewing where the gaps are, he plans to advocate for reviews in Christian’s case to ensure the protocols that exist were followed.

“I applaud Peg for coming forward. She’s going to help a lot of other people,” he says. “And this should be absolutely a flag to everybody out there that these fraudulent activities are taking place.” 

Anyone who thinks they've been a victim of a scam should contact their local police department and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Top Stories

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