NEWS

Major new credit card scam uncovered in B.C.

03/19/2014 07:03 EDT | Updated 05/19/2014 05:59 EDT
A Surrey couple are facing multiple charges after Vancouver police uncovered a huge new credit card scam that goes after customers' Royal Bank of Canada reward points.

Daniel Adam Suchecki, 34,  and Christa Dawn Hucal, 25, believed to be the ringleaders of the scheme, have been charged with numerous offences related to identity theft, including impersonation, possession of stolen mail and forgery.

Police say the major discovery in this case is a new method of stealing identities and property, specifically using information from a victim's RBC Visa statements, sometimes obtained by mail theft, to redeem points and purchase gift cards.

Det. Phil Ens said the scam is likely to go unnoticed until the victim tries to redeem their points.

"Always be aware, number one. When you get your credit card statements, especially if you're with RBC, be aware of what your redeem points are...and if all of a sudden they're disappearing, you might make a call," he said.

The scam was uncovered as part of Project Lancer, a joint investigation between the Auto Crime Enforcement Unit, the Identity Theft Unit and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The investigation began in January, after officers spotted two men in the parking lot of the Starlight Casino in New Westminster.

When police checked the cars, one was a stolen pickup truck and the other was a rental car rented with a fraudulent credit card.

Police said they also recognized the suspect in the car from previous investigations, as someone who had a long history of fraud, theft and identity theft in the Lower Mainland.

When investigators searched the suspect's Surrey apartment, they found around 200 credit cards and ID in other names, together with stolen mail, a credit card reader and writer and credit card data.

They also found memory sticks containing templates for driver’s licenses, SIN cards and birth certificates along with finance credit applications, another 100 different personal IDs and $20,000 in e-gift and hard-copy gift cards. 

In addition, the probe recovered three stolen vehicles.

'Unbelievable access'

There are believed to be more than 100 victims of the scam, including some from as far as Alberta and the United States, whose credit card details were stolen from computers in B.C., in what police are calling "unbelievable access." 

Police believe Suchecki and Hucal had others working for them, since the stolen mail was seized from nearly every jurisdiction in the Lower Mainland.

Ens says police have been working with RBC since they first learned of the scam and continue to advise them in making adjustments to their security systems.

The scam was made possible in part because flags were not raised when the billing address of these gift cards was different to the credit card owner's address.

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