For once, here’s a news story about Toronto cabbies that doesn’t involve the ongoing ballad of taxi v Uber – well almost.
Police have warned residents of the city to be vigilant after a slew of cab drivers have been reportedly stealing dozens of bank cards from late night riders who were a little worse for wear.
Taxi drivers have been using fake point-of-sale machines to swipe data from their passenger’s credit or debit cards and then handed over the customer a fake card that looked similar to their own.
The fraudulent driver then takes the real card “to the nearest ATM and liquidates your accounts,” Det. Chris Beattie told the National Post.
The scam works on the basis that customers may not immediately notice that the card isn’t theirs; so passengers on their way home from a night at the bar are being targeted.
So if you’ve ever woken up to find you have a grade-A vodka-induced migraine and a card that on closer inspection doesn’t look like yours, chances are you’ve been conned.
The swindle, according to the Post, has been happening since late November and TD Bank alone has filed 65 claims.
But City News say that this has actually been happening since October, and in the following two months $60,000 was stolen from 19 victims. And we’re still counting.
They also report that this is nothing new in Canada as Montreal has been experiencing the scam since June, whereby 150 victims have seen a total $450,000 stolen. Fraudulent drivers were reportedly using legitimate taxis which had been rented to them second or third hand.
One victim told City News that $720 was stolen from her account when the cab driver refused to accept cash and she was forced to pay with her TD card.
To guard against being ripped-off, police are encouraging customers to take down the cab number since this is the easiest way to track the criminal vehicles down.
They also warned people to watch out for receipts that say “GTA Taxi” or “Toronto Cabs” rather than the company’s real name.
This comes at a bad time for licensed taxis, who have already lost a lot of business to Uber, and don’t need another reason for customers to look to other forms of transportation.
But Kristine Hubbard, operations manager with Beck Taxi, said “To suggest that this has anything to do with taxis vs. Uber is ludicrous. You know what, there is risk when using any kind of payment device.”
She added, “There are 10,000 licensed cab drivers in this city who are professional, law-abiding people.”
And while she’s right, we’re not sure it helps the optics much.