BUSINESS

Toronto Taxi Scam Victimizes Dozens Through Swapped Debit Cards, Fake Receipts: Police

01/08/2016 12:22 EST

Toronto’s taxi industry, already battling for business against Uber, doesn’t need another headache. But it just got one.

Police allege a group of cab drivers in the city have been running a scam on passengers, swapping and stealing their debit cards and emptying their accounts.

The scam has reportedly been going on since November, and has targeted passengers primarily in the downtown area, at night or in the early morning.

Toronto police told the National Post that there appear to be dozens of victims: TD Bank alone has filed 65 claims linked to the scam.

A passenger identified only as Rachel told CityNews she used her debit card to pay for a cab after the driver told her he didn’t have cash change.

Rachel noted the cab driver skipped over the part in the transaction where the passenger is asked to enter a tip amount.

The next day, she discovered that the card he returned to her was not hers, and her bank account had been emptied and overdrafted into the hundreds. She lost $720 in all.

The scams were not carried out by drivers at any one cab company, but police would not say which companies were linked to it. They believe the drivers involved are likely “independents,” meaning they work for multiple cab companies.

Police say passengers should look out for taxi receipts that don’t have the cab company’s name on it, instead bearing generic names like “GTA Taxi” or “Toronto Cabs.”

And “watch them with the machines,” Det. Chris Beattie told the Post.

Beattie said police have surveillance footage of at least one of the drivers. CityNews reported police told them an arrest is “likely around the corner.”