A total of 62 people are facing 196 charges for trafficking counterfeit Toronto Transit Commission passes.
The arrests were made following a four-month investigation led by the Toronto Police Service Transit Patrol and TTC Special Investigations.
“In the fall of 2013, we built up a substantial intelligence database and approached the Toronto Police Transit Patrol seeking their assistance in doing some target enforcement towards making some arrests of people trafficking in these passes and finding the perpetrators,” said TTC Special Investigations Staff Sergeant Mark Russell, at a press conference at police headquarters on February 12. “Two police officers were dedicated to us and based on the intelligence analysis, targeted enforcement took place.”
Russell said observant bus and streetcar drivers, subway station collectors, transit enforcement officers doing routine fare enforcement, along with tips from the TTC’s customer service line and Crime Stoppers, led to the arrests and charges.
Of the 62 arrests, 39 occurred at subway stations. Most arrests were at the Scarborough Town Centre, followed by Dufferin, Sherbourne, Victoria Park, College and Lawrence West stations.
A total of 16 arrests were made on surface vehicles, the majority on the Finch Ave. W. route.
The average age of those arrested is 29.
Const. Bob Moynagh said most of the seized passes were for the month of December 2013.
“That was from a person who was arrested for trafficking forged documents and, upon being searched, he was found to be in possession of 56 counterfeit December Metropasses which we have on display here today,” he said. “The majority of people arrested, it appeared, were social networking friends… Using different investigative techniques, we were able to arrange a meet with them and they would unknowingly sell to police or TTC investigative personnel. They were subsequently arrested.”
Moynagh said the passes were being sold for about half the face value. A monthly Metropass for adults cost $133.75.
Brad Ross, the TTC’s corporate communications executive director, said his organization is experiencing an increase in the use of counterfeit passes that accounts for about $2 million in lost revenue annually.
“The TTC takes counterfeiting very seriously, as evidenced here today,” he said. “We have an obligation and responsibility to our law-abiding customers who buy their fare from legitimate sources to take action on all forms of fare evasion.”
He urged buyers to be beware when they purchase passes from illegitimate sources.
“If an offer to buy a pass sounds too good to be true, for an example a pass for $50, it probably is,” Ross said. “Only buy your pass from a TTC collector, pass vending machine or an authorized fare media seller.”
Ross said the addition of the Presto fare system in the coming years will eliminate counterfeit use.