At a time when cab companies could really use some good PR, a group of drivers in Toronto is believed to be ripping off customers by jacking their debit cards and draining their bank accounts.
Toronto police are investigating a ring of cabbies who pick up people heading home from the bar and steal their debit or credit cards upon receiving payment, handing back fake versions that look similar. The drivers, who obtain PIN numbers during the transactions, are accused of then withdrawing funds from ATMs, Det. Chris Beattie of the financial crimes unit told the National Post.
The scams are taking place downtown late at night or early in the morning, when “you’re not really noticing what’s going on,” Beattie said.
Complaints have been coming in since October of last year and the fraudsters have stolen around $60,000 in total, according to CityNews. Police believe there are more than 65 victims.
One passenger told CityNewsshe found $3,000 missing from her bank account following a ride with a (in retrospect) shady driver.
Beattie said it’s been difficult to track down the parties responsible because most people aren’t noting down a cab number, nor are they immediately aware that the card they’re taking home is fraudulent. He said there is video footage of one driver, which has not been made public.
Beattie said to be wary of generic receipts that say “GTA Taxi” or “Toronto Cabs” and to make sure debit/credit machines are branded.
A similar scam, which could be related, took place in Montreal last year. In that case, the cabbies made off with $450,000 over a period of several months.
Similar incidents have taken place over the years. A Windsor, Ontario driver was sentenced to house arrest in 2014 after admitting to robbing intoxicated passengers.
Alex Pierson, a spokeswoman for Co-op Cabs stated, this behaviour is “unacceptable” but could be a reaction to the unregulated growth of Uber.
“What we’re seeing in Toronto is a Wild West starting to happen, where some drivers have taken it upon themselves to make up for what they feel they are being short changed.”
She said patrons should protect themselves by paying attention to which cab company they’re using to get home and getting a receipt bearing the company name. Though it may sound obvious, she also cautioned against getting into an unmarked car claiming to be a cab. Investigation still in motion.