Saturday , June 12 2021

Six people charged in alleged coup to defraud taxi passengers in Toronto



Amanda Galbraith, photographed in Toronto on Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Christopher Katsarov

Toronto police said they broke a taxi scam scheme that allegedly stole substantial sums of money from hundreds of taxi users last year in the Toronto metropolitan area.

Six people are facing 262 fraud charges for allegedly stealing credit and debit card information from taxi customers and using it to exhaust their bank accounts, according to police officer Kristin Thomas.

"We are in the millions of losses when we put them together," Const. Thomas said about the sums of money involved. Police received reports of alleged fraud throughout 2018, but a few months passed before a pattern began to emerge, she said.

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Const. Thomas said the suspects allegedly defraud customers by giving them an altered point-of-sale debit machine. When the client enters the PIN information, you receive a communication error message. The driver asks the machine back to correct the problem and then exchanges the customer's card with another from the same banking institution.

The customer then concludes what he believes to be a proper transaction and removes the card he believes to be his. The driver, using the PIN information collected by the point-of-sale machine, as well as the customer's card, fraudulently removes the funds from his bank account.

HOW VITIMS WERE DEFOGNED

The client enters the PIN and receives an error message. However, the point-of-sale machine captured the customer's information.

The driver then removes the debit / credit card from the customer without his knowledge, and replaces it with another card from the same bank.

The customer completes what he believes to be a proper transaction for the ride and then removes the card he believes to be his.

The taxi driver then takes the customer's card to an automated bank affiliated with the customer's bank and uses the stolen credit / debit card to gain access to the customer's accounts.

VERY YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

HOW VITIMS WERE DEFOGNED

The client enters the PIN and receives an error message. However, the point-of-sale machine captured the customer's information.

The driver then removes the debit / credit card from the customer without his knowledge, and replaces it with another card from the same bank.

The customer completes what he believes to be a proper transaction for the ride and then removes the card he believes to be his.

The taxi driver then takes the customer's card to an automated bank affiliated with the customer's bank and uses the stolen credit / debit card to gain access to the customer's accounts.

VERY YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

HOW VITIMS WERE DEFOGNED

The client enters the PIN and receives an error message. However, the point-of-sale machine captured the customer's information.

The driver then removes the debit / credit card from the customer without his knowledge, and replaces it with another card from the same bank.

The customer completes what he believes to be a proper transaction for the ride and then removes the card he believes to be his.

The taxi driver then takes the customer's card to an automated bank affiliated with the customer's bank and uses the stolen credit / debit card to gain access to the customer's accounts.

VERY YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Amanda Galbraith, a former communications director for the Toronto mayor, said she was the victim of a week ago.

Galbraith said he was leaving a restaurant downtown last Wednesday when he called a taxi. The car that stopped seemed like a taxi, but it was not a family business.

She says that when she tried to pay for the trip, the exact procedure described by Const. Thomas happened to her. Mrs. Galbraith discovered that she was only victimized when she went to pay for lunch the next day. Her PIN did not work and she realized the card was not hers.

"While I slept, he took thousands of dollars off my account. It was over $ 5,000, "she said.

Galbraith said she still does not know whether she will be reimbursed by her bank.

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In an attempt to prevent this from happening to other people, Galbraith went to Twitter last Thursday to explain his situation.

"No one likes to say that he was deceived," she said. "I did it because I felt it was really important for people to know that it happened … I kind of had a weird feeling that something was wrong, but I just did not follow my instincts. So it was very important for me to say, "It happened to me and it could happen to anyone."

Const. Thomas said all reported cases of alleged fraud occurred in the city's licensed taxis, not on cars owned by touring apps like Lyft or Uber.

Beck Tax's operations manager Kristine Hubbard said the company has plenty of security measures to stop users from being cheated. "Every point-of-sale machine approved on a Beck cab is very marked and looks identical," she said. "Being informed is the most important thing and do not give your debit card to anyone."

Hubbard added that these situations only happen when calling a taxi on the spot, so users should try to ask for taxis in advance or pay with the application so they never have to present their card physically. She also said she hopes these incidents will not take customers away from taxis and travel-sharing applications. "The risk exists, no matter what service you use," she said.

This is not the first time such blows have occurred. In 2016, Toronto police warned taxi drivers who stole bank cards from dozens of night-cab passengers. In 2017, police warned of an ongoing investigation into the same type of operation.

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Although police have picked up some of the alleged coup plotters, Const. Thomas said that this question remains "very active". It urges taxi users not to leave unattended debit or credit cards inside a point-of-sale machine and be aware of the numbers of taxis and taxi companies.

"There are still several incidents occurring," the police report said. "And there are still exceptional individuals actively defrauding the public by using several taxis in the GTA."

With files from Canadian Press


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