He applied for a job online, then got a fraudulent bank draft from his new employer – CBC.ca - Freelance Rack

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

He applied for a job online, then got a fraudulent bank draft from his new employer – CBC.ca

A Winnipeg man has a warning for people who are applying for jobs online and get hired, only to be asked to cash a cheque or bank draft on behalf of their new employer.

The man, whom the CBC has agreed not to name, found himself in that situation when he was offered a job as a work-from-home customer service representative for what he thought was an Ontario-based company called Superior Service Group.

He had been laid off from a sales job during the pandemic, so when he saw a newspaper ad in May for a job at $32 an hour, he applied.

The employer sent him a bank draft in his name in the amount of $9,200 by courier to pay his salary and operating funds, he said. The draft showed the address of a Scotiabank branch in London, Ont.

He would have deposited the bank draft into his own Steinbach Credit Union account in Winnipeg, but when he arrived at his credit union, the compliance branch there recognized there was a problem with the bank draft.

As a result, the man didn’t proceed with the deposit and didn’t lose any of his own money.

No Scotiabank at address

He alerted CBC News to his case but said he doesn’t want to be identified because he fears reprisal from the operators of Superior Service Group, who have the personal information he provided during the hiring process.

Scotiabank officials said the bank draft was fraudulent. 

“In this instance, we were able to identify the draft as fraudulent before the individual suffered any financial loss and encouraged them to report it to the local police,” said Daniela Da Silva, Scotiabank manager for Canadian banking communications, in an email to CBC News.

It turns out there isn’t a Scotiabank branch at the address shown on the bank draft.

CBC News did not get a response despite repeated attempts to contact Superior Service Group. (superiorsg.com)

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 10 complaints since late March about Superior Service Group, including one from the Winnipeg man, said Jeff Thomson, a senior RCMP intelligence analyst at the centre.

Once offered a job, complainants were told they’d be working from home and processing payments, Thomson said. People were sent fraudulent cheques and were to cash them and return the funds to the sender, in some cases using Bitcoin.

It’s the sort of problem the anti-fraud centre has been paying close attention to during the pandemic, Thomson said.

“You’re going to see people, you know, looking for money, looking for work in these difficult times,” he said.

Reports of scams related to hiring are up significantly in 2020, as CBC News reported recently. The anti-fraud centre has received 1,990 complaints in the category of “job scams” up until the end of May, exceeding the 1,757 received in all of 2019.

The website for Superior Service Group shows addresses for the business in Jacksonville, Fla., and London, Ont. Repeated attempts by CBC News to contact the operators did not get a response.

The Winnipeg man said he wants to warn people about the business.

“I feel terrible these people are doing what they’re doing,” he said.

He filed a complaint with Winnipeg Police Service in addition to contacting the anti-fraud centre.

“We recommend that anyone seeking employment online check into the business — if they don’t have much of an internet presence, it may be a concern,” Winnipeg police Const. Jay Murray said in an email. 

“If the first thing you’re asked to do is cash a cheque, be skeptical.”

The 10 complaints received by the anti-fraud centre about Superior Service Group are from people in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Thomson said only a small percentage of fraud and identity theft cases get reported to police or the anti-fraud centre.

“Do your due diligence on a company,” Thomson said.

“Reporting is really key. Police need to know what’s happening in the communities. If we don’t know what’s happening, we can’t warn other people.”

Jeff Thomson, a senior RCMP intelligence analyst at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, encourages people to report fraud and identity theft cases to police or the anti-fraud centre. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

If a new employee is asked to cash a cheque or bank draft, it might be a counterfeit document, and it might be money coming from other victims of a scam, Thomson said.

“You could be being used to money launder at the same time, so you really need to be careful,” he said about processing payments on behalf of a company. 

The Steinbach Credit Union wouldn’t say specifically how its people knew there was a problem with the bank draft when it was presented at a Winnipeg branch.

“The story here is that financial institutions throughout Canada work together to protect our members/clients from fraud,” Celina Philpot, Steinbach Credit Union’s chief retail and brand officer, said in an email.

Scotiabank said it encourages people to report fraud when it’s detected.

“Fraud is a risk in every industry and is a constantly evolving threat here in Canada and around the world,” said Da Silva.

The bank works closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, she said.

Quebec company files complaint

Meanwhile, the owner of a Quebec company operating under the name Superior Service Group has filed a complaint with police in Quebec about the activities of the other business using the same name.

“I would like to state, under no circumstance are we related to or do business in any way with Superior Service Group based in London, Ont., and Jacksonville, Fla.,” Raymond Ledoux, owner of the Quebec company, said in a statement to CBC News.

Ledoux said his company, located near Montreal, specializes in repair, sales and rental of heavy equipment and is currently advertising jobs for heavy equipment mechanics. 

The other company is “doing business using our name and also copying our company colours and abbreviations for their personal and fraudulent activities,” he said.

Ledoux is in contact with police in London, Ont., concerning the other business operating by the same name, and intends to file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Got a tip for the CBC Manitoba I-Team? Email iteam@cbc.ca or call the confidential tip line at 204-788-3744.

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