HUNTSVILLE - Payton Sinclair is a typical 16 year old with dreams of modelling someday, earlier this month her dream turned into a scam defrauding her of $600.
Around Sept. 6 Payton received an email offering her a modelling job for Amazon fashion.
“I know that Amazon is real and they sell clothes so that made sense. I emailed them back and told them I was interested. They sent me a full contract and said that my final pay was going to be $250 and they sent me an electronic cheque for $850. I took a picture of it and deposit it into my TD account,” Payton said.
The fraudsters presented themselves as a modelling agency claiming they found Payton’s Instagram account and contacted her via her social account email.
They explained that they receive a payment from their “clients” first, the $850. Payton was then instructed to deposit the cheque into her account and immediately transfer $600 to a provided email address as payment for an alleged stylist.
As soon as Payton transferred the $600 the entire cheque for $850 was reversed, in turn stealing $600 from her bank account. Payton’s bank account plunged into the negatives.
During this time Payton’s mom Aimee Sinclair was visiting her older daughter in Hamilton. Aimee found out about the offer and the cheque after Payton had already made the deposit and transferred the $600 out of her account.
One other distressing factor to this tale is that this modelling agency front had offered to rent studio space near the city Payton lived in and inquired about her address. She never disclosed her address.
Aimee is a former long time RBC bank employee and has experience working with cheques, as a result she was stunned that a 16 year old child would have a release amount and especially on a mobile deposit.
“My mobile deposits get held and I’m 42, so how does a 16 year old only get a hold of $250,” she asks.
Payton and Aimee both opened their TD banks accounts on the same day approximately three months ago. Both had a zero release amount, but sometime over those three months Payton’s release amount had been increased.
Aimee asked the bank how that is possible and was told that her daughter must pay her bills on time.
“I don’t have any bills,” Payton confirms.
Aimee wanted to know what the bank can do in this type of situation when a cheque was not held to be verified on a minor’s account. She said TD bank had told her that it was technically not fraud because Payton had accepted the cheque.
“She is 16 years old and if this happened to me fine, but she is a 16 year old girl who was excited thinking that the she has a contract … I even looked at the cheque and it looks legit, I noticed the month was really dark but that’s it,” Aimee said.
“Her entire cheque should have been on hold, this was not her paycheque being directly deposited, we are talking a mobile deposit.”
Aimee has reached out to some of her law enforcement friends for advice on reporting the fraud. She was advised to call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre as it would be more efficient to simply go directly through to the agency.
Aimee confirmed that TD has since credited Payton back $400 of the money she lost.
“They didn’t credit it all back but more than we could have imagined and we are grateful,” she said.
"I hope this story helps and prompts parents check what their children’s bank privileges are and for them to be mindful of fraud. I’m proud of Payton and how she has handled this.”
As for Payton, she said the theft has left her with a sour taste.
“This has given me a brand new outlook on people … it has given me a chance to know what’s going on, so I don't always have rose coloured glasses on but in the same breath it makes it hard because I’m someone who wants to trust people. But now I know I can’t,” she said.
We have contacted TD Bank for a standard of policies as they relate to youth bank accounts. We will update this story when a comment becomes available.