The family behind Johnson Livestock in a small community near Peebles, roughly 125km south of Regina, fell victim to a cellphone porting scam and identify theft, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost.
According to paNOW, Andrew and Laurie Johnson noticed one of their SaskTel cellphones had stopped working but assumed it was a technical glitch. Reaching out to SaskTel, the company said their line was ported out to Telus, which they obviously did not request.
“We are still unsure how that happened, but I guess anybody can request a transfer of a number to another carrier,” said Mr. Johnson.
“Obviously somewhere along the line, things have changed regarding security and I guess the biggest concern to us is not only how simple it is but how few people know about it,” said Mrs. Johnson.
But the situation turned from bad to worse, as on Monday, the Johnsons received a call from their bank, about multiple large withdrawals made, which they did not authorize. They were shocked their account was wiped out, with ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ gone.
The bank laid the blame on SaskTel, but the latter blamed Telus. The Johnsons say they are hopeful their money will be recovered. While waiting, they want others to know about how something like this could happen.
“Focusing on prevention has helped distract us while we are in this weird waiting period,” Mrs. Johnson added.
Cellphone porting scams are on the rise and it appears hacked accounts and social engineering may be at play here. Wireless companies need to ensure security measures are in place before accounts can be ported to another carrier.