Police in 55 Division warn residents of ongoing taxi fare scams, announce number of arrests

Police in 55 Division have announced the arrest of six people, including a 16-year-old boy this week, in connection with an investigation into alleged taxi fare scams.

Police in 55 Division have announced the arrests of four men, a woman and a teenage boy in connection with a fraud investigation into taxi fare scams in the Greater Toronto Area.

According to police, customers taking cabs in the evening and early morning hours were allegedly being defrauded after using their debit/credit cards to pay for the rides.

Customers were allegedly being handed an altered point of sale payment machine by the drivers, and when the payment failed to go through the driver asked for the machine back and would and would then switch cards, police said.

The customers were allegedly handed back a “switched” debit/credit card from the same banking institution which they would take believing it to be their own.

According to police, the drivers would then take the real card to a bank, and since they had the PIN number from the altered machine, allegedly use it to withdraw funds from an ATM in cash.

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, three search warrants were executed in connection with the police investigation.

Police allegedly recovered a point of sale machine, financial documents, mail and personal banking information relating to the identity of the theft victims.

The six people arrested are collectively facing more than 262 fraud-related charges.

Alex Ghakhar, 22, Adam Ghakhar 22, and Mohammad Sarwar, 25, all of Toronto, were arrested in December. They are scheduled to appear in court at College Park in February.

On Nov. 14, 2018, Tracy Begley, 48, of Toronto, was arrested. There is currently a bench warrant out for her arrest, police said in a press release issued today (Jan. 17).

On Nov. 28, 2018, John Alexander Mackenzie, 24, of Toronto, was arrested. He is scheduled to appear in court at College Park in February.

Earlier this week, a 16-year-old boy, of Toronto, was arrested on Jan. 15, police announced. Under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the accused cannot be named.

As a result of these incidents, police officers with the 55 Division Fraud Office would like to warn the public regarding ongoing taxi fare scams.

There are still a number of incidents occurring, and there are still outstanding individuals actively defrauding the public utilizing various cabs in the GTA, police said in today’s release.

The cab companies are not directly involved and are not being held accountable, police said.

Police are advising members of the public to be vigilant when utilizing any type of public transportation that results in debit/credit card transactions.

Police advise people not to leave their debit or credit card unattended inside a point of sale machine anywhere or at any time; be aware of cab numbers and company names when utilizing their services; be aware of the drivers identification that is displayed to the customer in clear view in the rear of the cab; when handed a point of sale machine, for any reason at any time, your debit and credit card should not be left inside the machine and handed back for any reason; and always remove your card.

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to contact police at 416-808-5500, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477 or online at www.222tips.com

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