A sting operation by Halton police and the employees of a Burlington business has uncovered a ring of credit card fraudsters that’s likely ripped off a number of businesses across the GTA.
It’s like a script from an episode of ‘Law and Order’. A sting operation involving a hot tub, Halton police, GPS tracking and the employees of Arctic Spas in Burlington. But it’s serious business. The Canadian Bankers Association says credit card fraud added up to over 465 million dollars in 2012 and it’s getting worse. Arctic Spas was hit last year and wasn’t about to let it happen again. So when a transaction aroused suspicion earlier this week they called police.
It looks like a brand new hot tub — but it’s an old, damaged one — borrowed by Halton police to help catch fraudsters. .
Phil Edey, General Manager of Arctic Spas: “We found a used hot tub in the back and they wanted to install a GPS in side it so they could track the hot tub. So they sent out a technician to install the GPS. We wrapped it up to make it look like a brand new hot tub, we loaded up the truck with the hot tub.”
Edey says Arctic Spas received a phone call on Monday from the customer wanting to buy a hot tub. He says the red flags went up when the client didn’t really ask a lot of questions about the tub and paid for it in full over the phone by credit card. Even though the 10-thousand dollar charge was approved, Edey was suspicious and called the credit card company. They in turn called the card holder who was surprised to hear he’d bought a hot tub. The purchase was a fraud. Edey called police, who set up the sting .
Ron Hansen, Halton Regional Police: “We followed the hot tub and truck to a storage facility on Stanley Avenue in Niagara Falls. Searching the people, they located a quantity of counterfeit credit cards on their person as well as hotel room keys.”
In the hotel rooms, they found a laptop, card readers and writers and gift cards.
Three people from Quebec have been charged with a number of fraud related offences. But police say more charges are likely. At least thirty thousand dollars in merchandise was recovered.
There is a number of policies in place to protect consumers from credit card fraud. Both Visa and MasterCard have a zero liability policy in place. You won’t be liable for unauthorized purchases as long as you have taken reasonable steps to protect your card. But that leaves either the bank or the business on the hook.
Edey says there are some things retailers can do to protect themselves: “Call the banks, call the Visa companies, make sure these purchases are authorized and if someone wants to pick it up they have to be here in store with the Visa that they used as well as the ID that matches.”
Those tips help both the retailer and the consumer. For more information, check this website: It Pays To Know