Taxi scam targets people at Mississauga, Brampton shopping mall parking lots, police warn

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Published May 16, 2023 at 11:44 am

Mississauga and Brampton residents are being warned by police of yet another scam targeting their wallets and bank accounts.

This time, crooks are approaching would-be victims in person at parking lots in shopping malls and smaller plazas, among other spots, in what’s known as a “taxi cab scam” or “pizza delivery scam.”

While insauga.com has recently reported on the pizza-related frauds, Peel Regional Police also want to draw public attention to taxi cab scams, which operate in much the same way as the pizza swindle.

Essentially, scammers use people’s willingness to help others in need against them and make them pay for it by draining their bank accounts, if possible.

In the “taxi cab scam,” there are usually two fraudsters involved, police say: one poses as the driver of a fake taxi while the other pretends to be a passenger who approaches the victim asking for help.

“The fake passenger approaches the potential victim claiming the taxi driver will not accept cash as payment for a fare and asks if the victim can use their own debit card or credit card to pay the fare, with the fraudster offering to pay them in cash,” police say in an online description of the crime.

“The victim then inserts their card into a modified point of sale (POS) terminal to pay the fare, and the machine records the PIN. The fake passenger then gives the victim cash to cover the fare. Meanwhile, the fake driver swaps the victim’s real debit card or credit card for a fake one, which is then returned to the victim. The scammers then use the stolen debit card or credit card and PIN to withdraw funds from the victim’s account.”

Police say there are several ways to protect yourself against such scams:

  • never hand your card over or disclose your PIN to anyone else
  • if you do hand over your card, ensure that the card that is returned to you is your card
  • if you are asked to insert or tap your card, beware of fake wireless point of sale terminals or those not connected to the internet. If something seems strange, don’t go through with the transaction
  • if you believe you’ve been a victim of the taxi/pizza delivery fraud or any other type of financial fraud, contact your financial institution immediately and also report the incident to police

Victims of scams need to take immediate action to protect themselves, police say, even after the fraud has been an initial success for the crooks.

Police say even if you do fall prey to a scam, there might still be time to take action and minimize or prevent any financial loss.

Peel fraud investigators last week retweeted a message from Consumer Protection Ontario (see below) that lists a series of steps to take immediately in order to “reduce your risk and protect yourself.”

While police are constantly fighting scammers and alerting residents to the latest frauds year-round, they stepped up their efforts in March, which was Canadian Fraud Prevention Month.

Peel police warned residents of many scams throughout the month, including an income tax scam that seeks to steal people’s money and sensitive personal information.

 

Among other scams police have alerted people to in recent weeks are those focused on cryptocurrencyPonzi schemes and pyramid scams that try to lure people into illegal investment webs that promise quick return on financial investment.

Another warning alerted the public to a fraud that seeks to trick people out of their money by telling would-be victims over the phone that a loved one is in jail or that they’re being targeted for not paying taxes.

Such “emergency scams” are among a number of popular frauds targeting people these days in Mississauga, Brampton and across Ontario, and Canada, police warn.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians lost more than $530 million to fraud in 2022 and much of that could have been prevented if victims were more informed of the tactics used by scammers.

For more information on the various frauds/scams, visit Peel Regional Police or Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre websites.

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