A group of Toronto Police Fraud and Financial Crimes investigators have been recognized with Investigative Partnership of the Year awards presented by International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators.
The officers from 14, 51, 52 and 55 Divisions were part of Project Switch that also involved Peel Regional Police and various financial companies.
The investigation targeted taxi drivers who would use a payment machine to capture a customer’s PIN number. Once the number was captured using the rigged terminal, a fake debit card would be switched with the real one and returned to the customer. Then the scammers, armed with the real card and pin number, would deplete the victim’s bank account.
Since 2016, police believe the scammers defrauded almost $4 million.
Det. John Maciek, of 52 Division, was one of the lead investigators.
“This is a team effort with officers from our other Divisions using their investigative skills and training to net results,” he said. “Our members gathered information and shared occurrences among Divisions. If we had something that was important, we called each other.”
The other Toronto Police officers recognized were D/Consts. Jas Chahal and Mickael Ferreira of 14 Division, Phillip Gayle of 52 Division, Francis Young of 55 Division and Elliott Lee of 51 Division.
The investigation began after police were made aware of the scam involving taxi drivers.
“Drivers would tell customers they don’t take cash because they might be robbed and credit cards because the payments are too high,” Maciek said. “They say they only take debit cards, which customers gave them. The drivers switched the card, put it in the machine, punch in the amount and hand it back to the customer. Some people took their receipts and others chose not to.
“A day or two later, the bank would notify the customer that there are some unusual transactions going on. Others would see the unusual transactions, while some would do some shopping with their debit card only to find out that their cards are declined when they punch in their pin numbers. It is only when they call their bank that they realize their card was switched.”
Maciek said those alleged to have been involved in the fraud were not licensed taxi drivers.