TORRANCE - On Thursday, Oct. 23 Gen Suchanek finished her summer job, the next day she was lured to Barrie and scammed out of $3,000.
Suchanek’s mother Norah Fountain said the scammers stole “every penny she earned at her summer job … She is an innocent young woman with learning disabilities who was lured from Torrance to Barrie to a fake Western Union where her hard earned dollars were turned into bitcoin,” said Fountain.
On the morning of Oct. 24 Suchanek answered her phone, on the other line was a male voice who introduced himself as an RCMP officer. The fake officer told her she had 40 minutes to get from Muskoka to Barrie to make a payment on $90,000 she owed to the Canada Revenue Agency for taxes which they claimed contained purposeful mistakes over the last five years. If she didn’t do as they asked or took the time to call her mother she would be arrested immediately and fined over $90,000.
“The scammers terrified her and wouldn’t let her off the phone to call me. Gen always files her taxes on time and usually gets a refund as she is low income and on disability when she is not working at PIE. She has significant learning disabilities. They made her keep her cell on the entire drive to Barrie and when she said she didn’t know where Dunlop Street was they screamed at her – ‘don’t you have GPS.’ She’s a nervous driver and I’m thankful she didn’t have an accident,” said Fountain.
The scammers told Suchanek she could not go to her home branch in Bala because that would take too much time. They directed her to a TD Bank on Collier Street where they made her keep her cell phone in her pocket so they could listen to her withdrawing the $3,000. She was then instructed to drive to Maple Convenience on Dunlop Street which they told her was a Western Union depot. It was not. It was an Instacoin Bitcoin machine. The scam artists emailed Suchanek a QR code which they then demanded she scan at the machine and deposit her cash.
Unfortunately, the scam does not end there. As soon as the transaction was completed they informed her she had to pay another $4,000 and had her return to the bank. This time, an alert and an observant bank teller noticed something was not right and asked Suchanek what was in her pocket, the young woman started crying telling the teller it was the police. The teller took the phone and spoke with the scammers and informed Gen she’d been scammed. The teller even drove her back to the convenience store to see if she could somehow get her money back.
“But of course it was gone. Barrie police said there are three such stores in Barrie with these Bitcoin machines,” said Fountain.
The police also said that while the elderly are often victims of such scams so are 20-35 year olds, as they are not as familiar with the CRA and are use to operating digitally. Suchanek is 32 years old.
“Gen was so proud she had saved the money, and I had put in $800 from my tax refund as we were saving to take down our pine trees before first snow. She is embarrassed, but we’re desperate. It was all we had saved. So we’re just trying to replace the $3,000 that was taken from her,” said Norah.
Fountain is thankful that her daughter is safe and was not physically hurt.
“Gen definitely will carry the emotional scars for a long time. I feel hurt too – maybe I didn’t do a good enough job as a mother explaining what’s out there. I hope others will think to share this info with their 20 – 35 year olds. Gen lives at home with me and is very innocent and trusting in authority,” she said.