Take common sense precautions to protect your credit cards from fraud

By CRAIG WONG, THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA – As Canadians head out for their holidays this summer, they’re going to be reaching for their credit card to pay their way and experts want them to take some simple steps to protect against fraud.

While entirely eliminating the risk that your card number will be stolen isn’t possible, reducing the chances you will be hit requires mostly common sense.

Don’t lend your card, protect your personal identification number, don’t share your PIN number and check your transactions regularly.

“You should protect your card like you would cash,” says Maura Drew-Lytle, spokeswoman for the Canadian Bankers Association.

Drew-Lytle says banks are constantly monitoring credit card transactions looking for fraud, so you may want to let your bank know if you’re travelling so they don’t suspect your purchase of a souvenir while on holiday in Europe is someone that has stolen your card.

“If you’re someone that doesn’t travel a lot and all of a sudden they see transactions from Spain on your credit card, they may block it thinking it is fraudulent,” she said.

The big credit card companies have zero liability policies that can protect you from unauthorized purchases, but if your card is compromised and needs to be replaced it can be a major inconvenience, especially if you are travelling.

The introduction of chip cards in Canada has helped fight credit card counterfeiting. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, they reduced card counterfeiting by 23 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

However, the U.S., a major destination for vacationing Canadians, has been slow to adopt the technology with many stores and restaurants still swiping your card and requiring you to sign the bill.

Drew-Lytle says you should take the same precautions while travelling in the U.S. you did before chip cards were introduced in Canada.

“If anything looks unusual about the terminal that they are using, you might want to pay cash or go somewhere else,” she said.

When shopping online, Mike Haley, a regional vice-president for the Royal Bank, says beware of links sent to you with offers that seem like they might be too good to be true because they could be phishing attempts to steal your card information.

“If it is coming to you, you have to be a bit skeptical,” he said, adding that you should use a secure connection with making a purchase online and never send your card number by email, which is not secure.

Haley also recommends receiving electronic statements instead of paper bills because that eliminates another way your card number could be stolen.

If you spot purchases that aren’t yours on your statement or think you might have given out your number when you shouldn’t have, you should contact your card issuer right away.

Banks will contact you in some circumstances if they think a charge doesn’t look right.

If you’re concerned that a call from someone saying they are from your bank may be a fraudster, Haley says there’s nothing wrong with hanging up and calling back.

But, he adds, don’t call a number given to you by the person on the phone. Instead, call the number on the back of your card or look it up somewhere you can trust.

“Just connect with your card company,” Haley says. “They’ll take over the situation immediately, they’ll make sure they can issue you a new card and protect you from any additional risks out there.”

Your card company or bank will never call or email you to ask for personal information like your card number, expiry date or PIN.

canada-press

Taxi debit fraud: How it worked

By CBC News

After months of investigation, Montreal police have arrested two men in connection with an extensive scam to skim debit cards.

Police say the suspects were stealing customers’ PINs and debit cards and swapping them out with near identical cards, before draining their bank accounts.

The suspects generally followed the same pattern, according to police:

  • The driver would pick up a passenger from the street.
  • At some point, the driver would ask that the passenger pay by debit. When it came time to pay, the driver would insert the card into a special terminal that skims PINs.
  • While passengers weren’t looking, he would pocket the real card and hand back a different, nearly identical debit card.

The fraudsters worked quickly, often withdrawing huge sums of money within a few hours of the card theft, before the customer noticed.

Victim Hannah Lazare said it was only the next day, when she went to her TD branch to cash a cheque, that she realized her debit card had been stolen.

“I noticed that there was some scratches on the back of the card. And I realized that the signature on the back was not mine,” she said.

Police say the fraudsters worked quickly, often withdrawing huge sums of money within a few hours of the card theft. (CBC)

Lazare, a law, ethics and history student at the University of Toronto  had just deposited several thousand dollars in scholarship money in her account a few days before. She recoiled when the teller told her there was just $6 left in her account.

From her bank statement, Lazare could see that the fraudsters had withdrawn $1,000 from a bank machine and then spent the rest at a Couche Tard dépanneur.

Police said the fraudsters worked quickly, often withdrawing huge sums of money within a few hours of the card theft. (CBC)

Police say the suspects also tried to press passengers for personal information, to maximize their return.

“What interested them most was their date of birth,” said Montreal Police Sgt. Laurent Gingras.

‘The guy was very good at chatting us up… basically just distracting us and taking our mind off of anything we’d consider to be off about the whole situation.’– Victim Matt MacKinnon

“Because with the date of birth, at certain banks, they can withdraw more money than is usually allowed.”

Matt MacKinnon, a local freelance photographer, lost hundreds of dollars in the same scheme on Saturday.

“The guy was very good at chatting us up, asking where we were from and stuff — basically just distracting us and taking our mind off of anything we’d consider to be off about the whole situation,” said MacKinnon.

Neither MacKinnon nor Lazare say they gave personal information to the driver.

Lazare said she was reimbursed by TD bank once the bank determined she had been the victim of fraud.
MacKinnon, also a TD customer, said the bank is still conducting its investigation.

Renting out taxis

Gingras said the suspects were renting out taxis under the table from different drivers with different companies.

It’s not clear whether the drivers who lent their cars knew anything about the fraud.

“By varying the kind of vehicle that was used, they would not [draw] attention to themselves,” said Gingras. “Different types of vehicles — more difficult for the police to pinpoint.”

One of the suspects appears to have had a taxi licence. The other does not even have a driver’s licence.

$1.5M romance fraud scheme leads to 9 arrests, 40 charges

$1.5M romance fraud scheme leads to 9 arrests, 40 charges

By CTV Toronto

Police have laid more than 40 charges against nine people from the Toronto area in connection with a $1.5-million romance fraud scheme.

Police allege the accused were part of an organized, criminal network that targeted women on various dating websites. They used the names Benjamin D. Baker and Ryan Hull.

According to police, those involved in this type of fraud typically go to “great lengths” to make their false identity believable.

“The suspect will use a number of tactics and schemes to build trust and establish a relationship with the victims,” York Regional Police said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These relationships often progress very quickly to an emotional point where the victim is so invested in the relationship that they feel compelled to help when the suspect begins to ask for money.”

Police launched an investigation into the romance fraud scheme in July 2014 after a woman came forward to investigators. Six other victims were later identified in addition to a “very large number of women” who the suspects attempted to get money from, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Crown alleges investors lost $10 million as Daniel P. Reeve fraud, theft trial starts

By Brian Caldwell | Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER — The fraud and theft trial of prominent former financial planner Daniel P. Reeve started in Kitchener on Monday with allegations that 41 investors lost a total of $10 million.

When Reeve was charged in 2012, police estimated the alleged fraud at $30 million and said it involved more than 120 victims, which would make it the largest financial crime in Waterloo Region’s history if proved.

In 2013, the amount was estimated at $18 million and then last year it dropped to $10 million, making it half the size of the Pigeon King International pigeon-breeding scam.

There was no explanation on Monday why the estimate dropped to $10 million.

Reeve, 55, entered the courtroom wearing a sweater and jeans and walked to the prisoner’s box in handcuffs.

Minutes later, defence lawyer Mary Cremer asked that Reeve’s handcuffs be removed and he be allowed to sit at the defence table. She said Reeve has been in custody since July 2012 and never posed a security risk.

Crown attorney Fred Creed agreed to the request, noting Reeve has no criminal record and no history of violence.

After pleading not guilty to fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000, a court official asked Reeve if he was ready for his trial.

“I am,” Reeve replied.

The trial is expected to last four to five months.

A former Elora resident who later moved to Collingwood, Reeve was a financial planner, author and public speaker who has previously been described as the man who ran the Millionaire in You Wealth Institute in Waterloo and owned the Jakobstettel Inn in St. Jacobs.

Reeve has also been called the principal player in DPR Financial Inc. of Cambridge and related companies elsewhere in the region.

In a brief opening statement, Creed said Reeve was a well-established financial planner who had a “solid reputation.” Reeve wrote books, promoted himself and built up trust with his clients, Creed said, calling that trust “unfounded.”

“At some point his success gave way to deceit,” Creed said.

Creed alleged most of the investment money Reeve received from clients wound up being used for his own personal use. The offences are alleged to have happened between 2007 and 2009.

The first witness was Norman DeBoer, a detective in the Waterloo Regional Police fraud branch and lead investigator in the Reeve case.

He testified he interviewed more than 200 people and filled seven notebooks. DeBoer said the first fraud complaint was received in November 2008. Police began investigating five people. DeBoer said he was the officer who arrested Reeve.

Transaction records from about 20 bank accounts for a variety of companies were entered as exhibits.

The names of the companies included DPR Financial Inc., DPR Waterloo Inc., DPR Windsor Inc., DPR London Inc., Jakobstettel Properties Inc., Jakobstettel Estates Inc., Reeve Hotels & Resorts Inc., Millionaire Travel Inc., Millionaire Media Inc., Millionaire Mortgage Inc., Millionaire Multimedia Inc., The Millionaire in You Wealth Institute, Eveson Travel/Millionaire Travel, Select Executive Services and Emerald Met Inc.

Records of two of Reeve’s personal bank accounts, a line of credit and a credit card were also entered as exhibits, as were seven books written by Reeve, including “The Secret of the Three Buckets,” “The Mirrored Butterfly” and “The Wealth Effect.”

DeBoer testified that during his investigation, he visited a building at 423 King St. N. in Waterloo that was home to three companies: DPR Financial, Millionaire Mortgage and the Wealth Institute.

Questioned by Cremer, DeBoer said the office had previously been located in Cambridge.

DeBoer testified Reeve’s brother, David Reeve, became president of DPR in early 2008 or possibly late 2007.

Cremer took an aggressive approach to cross-examination of the lead investigator, suggesting police developed tunnel vision and never seriously considered other suspects, including employees in the web of Reeve companies.

DeBoer denied that was the case.

“It was always that we were keeping an open mind about other involvement,” he said.

DeBoer also rejected a suggestion by Cremer that David Reeve was promised he wouldn’t be charged if he testified against his brother.

Cremer pressed the officer on key documents turned over to police by two bookkeepers for Reeve companies, suggesting they had stolen them from their boss.

“That’s a matter of opinion,” DeBoer said. “I would disagree with you.”

The judge-alone trial in front of Justice Toni Skarica is taking place in Ontario Superior Court.

Fraser McCracken, part of a two-man prosecution team, said five or six witnesses will testify by remote video link. All but one of the witnesses live outside of Canada, he said.

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