Louis Kavaratzis says his retirement plans are ruined after Canada Post lost a piece of certified mail containing a certified check for $301,560, money left to him in his late father’s will.
His brother, George Kavaratzis, sent the check from their father’s estate by certified mail from Campbellford, Ont., to Louis in Ayer’s Cliff, Que., on July 25.
But the check apparently disappeared and the brothers have spent every day since trying to track it down with Canada Post and get TD Bank to stop it or flag it and issue a new one. However, they say no institution has offered much help.
“It was going to greatly benefit my retirement. I wanted to invest it,” Louis, 57, said of his lost inheritance. “My dreams of that ever happening are dashed.”
“The emotional turmoil that’s eating away at me minute by minute; you can’t stop thinking about it.”
After CBC Toronto contacted TD this week, it offered to issue a new check on the condition that George sign an indemnity agreement, meaning he would be responsible for the money if someone else finds and cashes the original check.
George says he refused and instead offered to sign an agreement stating he would be responsible for $150,000. He says that he is not comfortable with the risk of having to pay back the full amount. He also says that he hasn’t done anything wrong, so he shouldn’t be the one on the hook.
“For the rest of my life I’ll be looking over my shoulder; will this be the year they get paid?” he said.
Canada Post apologizes and investigates
Canada Post did not respond to a list of questions from Breaking:, but apologized to the brothers in a statement for the “unfortunate and frustrating delivery experience.”
Spokesman Janick Cormier said the Crown company has not yet been able to find the envelope.
“We understand the concerns you raised regarding how this important delivery was handled and we are investigating,” Cormier said in an email.
“When this issue was first raised, we conducted an extensive search of our facilities and continue to monitor our operations for the item.”
Canada Post has not offered the brothers any compensation.
Lost in a matter of hours
George chose to send the check via certified mail because it provides confirmation that Canada Post received the item and proof of delivery by requiring the recipient’s signature.
“You’d think it would be safe,” George said.
The Canada Post website estimates that certified mail takes four business days to cross the country. When Breaking: checked the tracking number assigned to Kavaratzis’ article, it shows it took almost twice as long.
The envelope traveled some 40 kilometers from Campbellford to Peterborough, then was rerouted twice back and forth between Peterborough and Toronto, due to processing errors, before finally arriving at Ayer’s Cliff on August 3.
According to tracking information, a notice card was left in Louis’ mailbox at the post office that day at 8:25 a.m., alerting him to pick up the envelope. But when he went to retrieve it, he says a staff member told him they remembered handling the item, but couldn’t find it.
“I was just amazed,” Louis said. “How do you lose certified mail in two hours?”
In the village of Ayer’s Cliff, almost 150 kilometers southeast of Montreal, mail is delivered to residents’ mailboxes located inside the local post office. That means that if the envelope arrived at the post office when he said he should, he shouldn’t have left the building before Louis came to pick it up a couple of hours later.
He says he went back to the post office several times, but the envelope didn’t show up.
On August 8 at 1:47 pm, the online tracking tool indicated that the item was still at Ayer’s Cliff and said: “Final notice; item will be returned to sender if not picked up within 10 days.”
But, under that same date and time, it shows that the item was delivered and signed for in Campbellford. A document shows George’s signature on that date, but George insists that he did not sign or receive the item.
He says staff at Campbellford Post Office told him his signature was scanned in by mistake.
“It was never picked up. It was never there,” George said. “No one knows where he is.”
I can’t stop the payment
While the brothers blame Canada Post for losing the check, they wanted TD to put safeguards on it and issue a new one.
George, who is the executor of his father’s estate, says that when he asked the bank for certified checks there was no conversation about where they were going or if there was a more secure way to send the funds.
An Aug. 11 letter from George’s attorney to the bank indicates that TD failed to stop payment on the check and instead asks that it be flagged in case someone else tries to cash it.
George says after Breaking: contacted the bank this week, TD marked the check and offered the severance deal.
TD spokesperson Ashleigh Murphy says the bank does not comment on the specific details of a customer’s issue, but confirms it is working with George on “next steps.”
Murphy said in a statement that the bank has a “regular process” for dealing with lost certified checks, but says if the money is deposited it will be processed. She says the bank where it is deposited will be available.
“You cannot stop payment on a certified check or money order, as they are considered forms of certified funds, where essentially the piece of paper is worth the money,” Murphy said.
“Almost as good as cash”
Banking expert Omar Fares says a wire transfer is the safest way to send large sums of money, followed by a bank draft and then a certified check.
Fares, who is not involved in the case and spoke to Breaking: generally, says a certified check is “almost as good as cash,” but the person cashing it will likely be asked to provide matching identification. with the person who issued the check. and proof of a bank account with the same name.
He says that while banks take extra precautions with checks over $10,000, fraud is rampant.
“If the wrong person receives a check, there are layers of protection,” said Fares, who teaches at the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management at Metropolitan University of Toronto.
“But if the wrong person gets hold of the check, this can definitely be problematic and can be very difficult to stop.”
Fares says it’s not a bank employee’s responsibility to tell a customer which method of sending money is the safest, but he says that from an advisory and customer service standpoint, an employee could “go the extra mile.” informing the client.
The siblings say the whole ordeal is even more difficult considering their parents sacrificed a lot and worked hard to provide for their family.
“My parents came as immigrants in the 1950s and worked hard all their lives and now they’re gone,” George said. “They have passed what was left to their children. This is what has happened? It’s horrible.”