Monday, November 3, 2014

I bought a wallet in Florence and lost all my money.

Our merry band of travelers at the arena in Verona
We're finally back home after our three weeks in Italy.  It was a great trip.  We spent the first ten days on the Amalfi Coast in a fantastic villa in Atrani.  After that, we traveled by train to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Florence, Bolzano, Venice, and Verona.  On our last night in Verona, I checked my bank account and was shocked to see that for about a week someone had been taking cash out of my account.  Apparently, when I tried to withdraw cash in Florence, I put my card into an ATM with a device that copied my card and recorded my pin code.   I tried three machines that day and I got errors from all of them when I tried to use my bank cards.  I didn't think much of it at the time because I was in another country trying to access funds in Canada, so I expected hiccups.  Finally I had success with taking money out of a machine using my VISA, rather than a debit card. Three days later someone in Peru started making ATM cash withdrawals from my CIBC chequing account.  They got about $1300 before I noticed it.  My account was almost empty and the withdrawls would have ended soon on their own, but I just happened to have a GIC cashed and deposited into the account that day that would have given the thieves access to thousands of dollars more.  In our hotel room in Verona, I called the International CIBC number on the back of my bank card and cancelled the card.

At least one of the ATMs that I tried
in Florence was in this square. Ironically,
my souvenir from Florence was a new
leather wallet.  Not that I have any money
left to put in it.
CIBC launched an investigation and within about 24 hours the money was returned to my account.  The customer service was fantastic, and ten minutes after realizing that I'd been robbed, I was confident that I'd get my money back and we enjoyed our last night out on the town.  I had checked my other accounts at the time and the CIBC account appeared to be the only one affected.  However, when I got home to St. John's my Soctiabank account was suddenly showing a negative balance.  I checked with a teller in the branch and sure enough, the Peruvian bandits had my Scotiabank info too and had emptied out another $1000.  Scotiabank deals with fraud on a debit card different than CIBC, so I'm still waiting to have those funds reimbursed.   To be safe, CIBC suggested that I preemptively cancel my VISA, just in case it was compromised.  Scotiabank investigates fraudulent transactions at the branch level, while CIBC has a special national unit dedicated to exactly this sort of theft.  I'm glad I dealt with CIBC first.  I have less confidence in the Scotiabank system, although I'm sure it will all work out fine in the end.

Verona at night.  (Click to Enlarge)
Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. The same thing happened to me when I was in Belgium a few years ago. I was lucky as the CC company caught it fast and froze my card. Somehow, the bad guys also got my phone number and I had to pretty much get a new everything. Wish I could've gone Liam Neeson on them.

    1. That's terrible. I'm still dealing with mine. All of the CIBC accounts affect have been resolved. Scotiabank is still dragging their heals. I was charged overdraft charges on the account the day after I reported the fraud to them in person. Then three follow-up phone calls just to confirm that an inquiry was started. CIBC did in hours what Scotiabank is pledging to do in weeks.


Related Posts with Thumbnails