Kamloops business owner sees $35,000 vanish
When Sid Kandola sent off a $35,000 downpayment for an order of mattresses, he never suspected anything was amiss.
The owner of City Furniture and Appliances had been dealing with the factory in China for more than five years and all the documents for his purchase appeared to be in order.
But, when documents proving the mattresses had shipped failed to materialize, Kandola contacted the factory to see what had gone wrong.
“The person we were dealing with at the factory, their email got hacked by this criminal. They were able to intercept all the mail coming from the factory, all the documents,” he said.
“We never knew there was someone in the middle. We thought we were getting all these documents, all the proof and that, from the factory.”
Once he became aware of the fraud, Kandola was quick to get in touch with HSBC, the bank used by both accounts involved in the transaction.
But, he said, the bank’s response to the situation has been disappointing — and has him concerned about the security of banking online in the future.
Kandola said when he first contacted the bank the day after sending the money, HSBC told him all it could do was put a trace on the payment.
Kandola didn’t hear from anyone until three business days later, when he managed to get an account manager from the Kamloops branch on the line.
She promised to look into the matter and call him back, but when he had heard nothing a week later, a frustrated Kandola visited the bank in person to complain.
That got him a meeting with a regional manager, who confirmed the bank had put a trace on the money, but couldn’t give him any information on where it had gone.
A second trace was ordered, but Kandola was told there might be no way to retrieve the money.
“If the money’s already gone to the fraud account, there’s nothing we can do. I was really shocked,” Kandola said.
More than a week later — and more than two weeks since the fraud was first discovered — Kandola still doesn’t have any information from the bank and his phone messages have gone unreturned.
He said he’s spoken with other banks he deals with and has been told information on where his money is should have been available within 48 hours.
“It’s been two weeks,” he said. “In today’s world, you can pick up a phone and call across the world and get information in seconds.”
Kandola said he feels the bank isn’t taking a hard enough line on fraud, since there’s no indication the HSBC branch where the fraudulent account was created will be notified or take any action against the hacker.
“It’s really frustrating,” he said.
“A lot of people do online banking and they think the bank has some responsibility when there’s online fraud. The way I’m getting information, the bank’s not doing anything.”
At press time, calls to the Kamloops HSBC as well as HSBC’s national communications team requesting comment were not returned.