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TD Bank refunds fraud loss after CBC investigation

03/15/2015 09:02 EDT | Updated 05/15/2015 05:59 EDT
A Surrey B.C. man says he hopes his experience with Toronto-Dominion Bank in a fraud case isn't being repeated with other clients.

In Dec. 2014, Rab Panesar was at his gym in Delta. When he returned to his vehicle he realized that his car been robbed.

His debit and credit cards had been stolen from his wallet, which he says he'd secured in one the vehicle's internal compartments.

"This was right before the holidays so, Christmas was a week away so it just put me into a really stressful situation," the single parent told the CBC.

Panesar reported the crime to police and followed up with the investigating officer, thinking he was doing all the right things.

The fraudster racked up $8,000 in charges between two banks: the Royal Bank of Canada and the TD Bank.

Claim denied by bank

Both banks initially denied Panesar's claim, saying his personal identification number or PIN was punched in perfectly when the cards were used.

RBC however did reconsider Panesar's request and reimbursed him around $600.

But TD Bank refused — leaving Panesar on the hook for thousands of dollars.

"They're making me feel like I'm the criminal here — like I did something wrong," he said.

"I mean I work really hard for my money and I don't see how this is my fault."

A suspect was eventually arrested, but Panesar still couldn't get his money back.

"I just feel really frustrated and annoyed at this point, because to my knowledge this person has been caught, arrested and charged, so this person is sitting in jail and I'm still out my money and this person is a known fraudster," he said.

All the evidence he had — receipts, cell phone bills, even proof he was in the gym — was passed on to TD Bank, but the bank still denied his claim.

"I feel like I've been doing a lot of the investigation myself, like when I found out...all the places where my cards were used, money was taken out, I went to those places personally to ask if they have video surveillance and if they could hold on to it for that day and time."

TD agrees to reimbursement

When CBC News initially contacted TD Bank, it said the case was closed, but it has since reimbursed Panesar all of his money.

"When we first received this case, we did a thorough investigation into the matter and provided information to local authorities," said TD Bank in a statement provided to CBC News.

"Last week we received new information from both the Delta Police and the customer involved and as a result we re-opened the case."

"Based on our review and in light of the new information, we have reimbursed the customer for the loss in full. We have contacted the customer and apologized for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Panesar provided correspondence to TD Bank which told bank investigators that a suspect was arrested and charged. It also encouraged them to contact Delta police for more information.

It appears that was never done, as Delta police confirmed to CBC News that someone from TD Bank only contacted them on March 8 — after CBC phoned TD Bank inquiring about the story.

Consumers beware

"It seems to me as if the banks are almost operating as if they're above the law," said Bruce Cran with the Consumers' Association of Canada.

Cran says cases like this, where the onus is on the consumer to prove they've been robbed are on the rise.

He also noted fraudsters now have technology that allows them to circumvent PINs on bank cards they've stolen.

"These issues are dreadful and nobody should be made to feel like they're a criminal because he's had money stolen from an institution that was supposed to protect his money for heaven's sake."

"They're putting a reverse bias test on this, like you're guilty. We've been dealing with this problem for about five years and it's getting worse and worse."

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