A few months ago my BMO bank account was hacked for $200 by “SONY”. I don’t even own a Play Station. I reported it to the bank, had to go down to the branch to sign the paperwork, get a new bank card and then update all my legitimate accounts like Amazon, Google, Netflix and so on. Shortly after this I was hacked for $158.19 for “AppleTV”. I don’t own anything Apple, let alone a TV app. Off I go to the bank again, sign the paperwork, get another new bank card, update my accounts and wait three weeks to get my money back. Not two month later I get hacked again for the exact same amount and same “vendor”. This time my bank gives me back my money right away knowing it is fraudulent. Then I discover a fraudulent payment of $59.99 each month for three months by some company I’ve never heard of. I go to what appears to be their website and the first thing I see is a scam alert! Again I go through the same process getting my new card and updating my accounts. Getting very frustrated that my bank appears to be useless in stopping this fraud.

Today I discover that my funds on hold include $343 from some company called SparklingPureProducts.com, again who I have never heard of. I go to their website and it just shows an error. I email them immediately advising that I have reported this transaction to my bank as fraud. Naturally I haven’t heard anything back from them. My bank won’t do anything to release the funds until I go through the same reporting process I’ve now done over and over. As a poor pensioner this amount means I won’t be able to buy food and I’ll starve! Does my bank of some forty years care? No! My bank manager even suggested that this is somehow my fault by being loose with my banking information which could not be further from the truth. I am very cautious with who I give my banking info to and only deal with companies I’ve dealt with for many years, like Amazon, Google and Netflix, none of whom I’ve ever had a single problem with.

UPDATE: The next day my account was charged $315.76 by this SparklingPureProducts, leaving me with no money for food. I had received at least six “tracking” emails telling me they had shipped the product. I replied to every single one of them telling them I had not ordered any product and to refund my money immediately or I would report them for fraud. No response. I checked out their supposed website SparklingPureProducts.com and discovered it did not exist, so I found their registrar and reported the fraud to them. I then managed to track down who supported their toll-free number and found a company called Twillio, so I also reported the fraud to them. For the sixth time this year I had to go to the branch, sign all the paperwork, get yet another debit card and update my online accounts. The manager did show a little compassion by giving me a hundred dollars for food. Naturally she said this would be reversed if and when I got my money back from the scammer.

I then got a call from a Maria at whoever SparklingPureProducts was and she left a message apologizing for any misunderstanding but insisting that I had ordered products from them; however, she was going to issue a refund for thirty-five percent of the cost as a goodwill gesture. I also got my first email response offering the same thing. Once again I refused and demanded my money back and I told her I had reported the fraud to my bank. She called again and this time I spoke to her. Her big mistake was asking me how I was doing? She got an earful. I told her their website did not exist. She said it was down for maintenance. BS! I told her I found their toll-free support company and they were doing an investigation. I told her I contacted their website registrar and reported the fraud to them. I told her they were the worst company I had ever dealt with. By this point she might have been close to tears if she really cared but she did offer to issue a refund for the balance of the charge. She also said that I could keep the product when it arrived but I said I didn’t want anything for nothing and I would either refuse it or return it. I found it stuffed in my mailbox a few days later.

As much as this gave me far too much stress there is another interesting part of the story, and that is the bank.

Back when I was hacked for the three payment totalling $179.97 the branch refunded the charges after the investigation. Shortly after I got the same refund again, I assume by their fraud department. I reported the duplication to the branch and they said it would be reversed. After I got the refunds from SparklingPureProducts I emailed my bank manager and said she could debit the hundred dollars she gave me. Yesterday when I checked my account there was another refund for $315.76 from the fraud I had reported, this despite telling the bank that the company had issued refunds not quite totalling the original charge.

So as of today they have not charged back the $179.97, the $100, or the $315.76, for a total of $595.73. Even after some forty years with BMO I have been thinking about closing my accounts because of all this grief. I have tried to get an account with a digital bank, Simplii, but they are impossible to deal with. Almost worse than BMO. If I were not such an honest person closing my account at BMO and being up almost six hundred dollars is tempting. I figure it could be consideration for the many, many hours I’ve spent trying to get things sorted out with BMO.