No money back for vic­tim

Chief Judge Nancy Orr or­ders cash seized from Bit­coin ATM re­turned to ma­chine’s owner

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY RYAN ROSS Ryan.ross@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

A P.E.I. woman who gave fraud­sters $62,500 af­ter they claimed to be from the Canada Rev­enue Agency (CRA) won’t be get­ting her money back.

On Fri­day, Chief Judge Nancy Orr or­dered that money re­turned to In­sta­coin ATM Canada Inc., which is the com­pany that sold the vic­tim Bit­coins she later sent to fraud­sters.

Orr said the ev­i­dence es­tab­lished that In­sta­coin pro­vided a ser­vice to pur­chase a prod­uct as the cus­tomer re­quired.

“It was not In­sta­coin who de­ter­mined where that prod­uct went,” Orr said.

Dur­ing a hear­ing on the mat­ter in Septem­ber, the court heard the vic­tim, who is a per­ma­nent res­i­dent from Iran, got a call from some­one claim­ing to be from the CRA.

That per­son left a voice­mail threat­en­ing to have the vic­tim ar­rested if she didn’t call back.

Through a so­phis­ti­cated scheme that in­cluded calls that ap­peared to come from the vic­tim’s ac­coun­tant’s of­fice and from the Strat­ford RCMP, the fraud­sters con­vinced the woman to pay $62,500 in Bit­coins.

The vic­tim com­pleted that trans­ac­tion through a Bit­coin ATM at a pizza res­tau­rant in Char­lot­te­town.

City po­lice later got a war­rant and seized the vic­tim’s cash from the ATM.

Be­cause of the anony­mous na­ture of Bit­coin, Char­lot­te­town po­lice de­ter­mined they would never be able to iden­tify the fraud­sters.

As she de­liv­ered her de­ci­sion Fri­day, Orr said nei­ther the vic­tim nor In­sta­coin com­mit­ted any wrong­do­ing.

There was no ques­tion the vic­tim thought she was trans­fer­ring the Bit­coins to the CRA and that she was un­der duress, but there was no ev­i­dence In­sta­coin was aware of that duress, Orr said.

Orr also said she was sat­is­fied the con­tract be­tween the vic­tim and In­sta­coin was to buy Bit­coin, not for In­sta­coin to trans­fer it to the CRA.

In­sta­coin didn’t know where the pur­chased Bit­coins were go­ing, Orr said.

Although she said it was un­for­tu­nate and re­gret­table the woman was the vic­tim of such a so­phis­ti­cated fraud, Orr added the blame was not on In­sta­coin.

With the money or­dered re­turned to In­sta­coin, there is a 30-day ap­peal pe­riod dur­ing which time the com­pany will have to wait to re­cover the cash from Char­lot­te­town po­lice.

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