Keep an eye on your cards. That is the warning issued by Toronto police as an investigation into debit and credit card fraud has expanded beyond its original magnitude. In October five men were arrested on charges of a TTC Metropass scam that involved using forged debit cards to purchase monthly passes. However, police have now uncovered links between this group and a Canadian wide criminal organization that forges credit card information, and commits credit card fraud.
The initial charges were cases of fraudulent debit card purchases, which have reportedly cost the TTC over $180,000. The investigation was originally called Project Rocket after the TTC Rocket, and uncovered 168 fake debit cards and 29 TTC monthly passes. But the Toronto police department’s Fraud Squad has now uncovered credit card information from over 30,000 accounts on computer equipment that belongs to one of the accused. Detective Ian Nichol says the new discovery will lead investigators well beyond the Toronto area.
“That card data has been tied to, at this point, over 154 point-of-sale terminals. They go right across Canada and even into the States.”
Nichol suggests approximately 3,000 of those accounts have been plagued by credit card fraud, which so far has resulted in over $350,000 in phony charges. He also believes fake charges will soon affect another 3,000 accounts, and that number is likely to continue growing.
The ringleader of this group, Umasangar Ramasamy, is in custody on multiple charges of fraud including possessing, manufacturing, and operating a credit card forgery device. Ramasamy is also being charged with possession of counterfeit government markings, and connections to a criminal organization. The other four men charged in the initial investigation have been released on bail.
Canada’s major banks have covered most of the losses incurred according to police. But warnings are being issued to cardholders in Toronto and across all of Canada to keep a close eye on your accounts.