Toronto police investigating taxi scam

Posted Jan 8, 2016 by Arthur Weinreb
The media has revealed a police investigation into some cab drivers stealing passengers' debit cards and then withdrawing money from their accounts at ATMs.
Keeping prices down is a key part of the battle with start-up companies -- as highlighted by a Busin...
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Timothy A. Clary, AFP/File
It is being reported the Toronto Police Service has been investigating some Toronto cab drivers since November. Although police did not release information about the investigation to the public, it was revealed by CityNews after a couple of people who had their cards stolen contacted them.
The scam works as follows. A passenger gives the driver a debit card and then enters their PIN into a payment machine. The machine then prints out a receipt that is given to the customer along with what looks like their debit card. But the driver has substituted another card that looks like the passenger's debit card. The machine records the victim's PIN number and the driver later takes the passenger's real debit card to an ATM and withdraws cash.
A 21-year-old woman told CityNews she handed her TD bank debit card to the driver and then entered her PIN into the machine. The cab driver then gave her back a card along with a receipt. The next day she noticed $720 was missing from two of her bank accounts. The monies were withdrawn from TD ATMs.
The woman showed the reporter the card she received back. It was a TD debit card that looked like hers but their was no name on the front and there was a signature on the back that was not hers. The receipt she received stated it was issued by "GTA cabs." Cab companies say their receipts clearly show the name of the company, not some generic name.
The woman also said she initially wanted to pay cash but was told by the driver he had no change.
According to police, most of these thefts occurred in the downtown area of the city either late at night or early in the morning, a time when Det. Chris Beattie said "you're coming home from work, you're coming home from a bar, you're not really noticing what's going on." Police advise taxi customers to take notice of the plate number, even going so far as to take a picture of it. They also said to examine the receipt to ensure it has the name of a legitimate taxi company on it.
Police also say they are now receiving complaints on a daily basis with at least 65 involving cards from the TD bank. The scam involves several taxi companies and police believe the drivers committing the thefts are independents who do shifts for more than one company. Police are not releasing which cab companies are involved.
This is happening at a time when the taxi industry is protesting their loss of business to Uber, feeling that company is putting them at a disadvantage because cabs are highly regulated. Christine Hubbard, of Beck Taxi said it is ludicrous to think the scam has anything to do with that dispute. She added there is a risk any time a payment device is used and this is proof of the need for "strict taxi and livery regulations."
Police have obtained surveillance video from some ATMs and say arrests are imminent.