Mar 01, 2013
By AM740 Staff
11:15am ET | Paul Spiridi, Detective Sergeant – Central Fraud Unit
12:15pm ET | GFB Vet, Dr. Ted Morris
GUEST – Paul Spiridi, Detective Sergeant – Central Fraud Unit
TOPIC – The full scope of a debit-card skimming scam that affected countless Fort Erie residents is still not known.
INFO – Niagara Regional Police say about a half dozen people filed complaints with them after noticing unauthorized transactions appear on their bank account statements during the past weekend.
But that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg, say investigators, as most people reported the incidents directly to their financial institutions.
Det. Sgt. Paul Spiridi, of the NRP’s central fraud unit, say they are still waiting for the financial institutions to complete their own investigations, after which they will bring send a package of information about the incidents to the police agency best suited to conduct the investigation.
What’s known at this point, said Spiridi, is that the incidents involve unauthorized transactions made possible by use of stolen debit card information, as opposed to customers’ online accounts being hacked.
“This is clearly a skim,” said Spiridi.
The information used to access the accounts was likely gained by way of a skimming-device attached to a debit or ATM machine somewhere in Fort Erie.
Just when this happened is not known, but the information needed to skim accounts could have been gathered weeks or months ago.
Such activities are most often the work of sophisticated organized crime groups outside of Niagara.
Information used to siphon money from accounts is sometimes sold to other groups.
There’s likely nothing the cardholders could have done to prevent their information from being compromised as it’s difficult if not impossible for someone using a machine to know if it has been compromised, he said.
“You can’t tell by looking,” said Spiridi.
Spiridi said he’s not yet certain how many accounts were affected or the total dollar loss.
The financial institutions are covering the losses and reimbursing the accounts of their customers, he said.
The cases he knows of involve only Fort Erie residents, but there could be others – people who used a compromised machine while visiting the area or passing through on the way to the United States.
Spiridi said it’s important for people to regularly monitor their account transactions and immediately report any suspicious activity to their bank or credit union, which is exactly what many of the people in this case did.
Over the weekend and through Tuesday, Bullet News was contracted by numerous readers, who say their bank accounts were compromised.
One victim who contacted Bullet News said he was robbed of $1,000 out of two of his accounts.
“If I hadn’t checked my account online, I wouldn’t have known,” he said.
Others who spoke with Bullet News reported a similar pattern, with withdrawals in the amount of $500, which appears to coincide with the daily cash withdrawal limit of the victims.
Debits on accounts were posted from overseas locations, such as Hong Kong and Malaysia.
GUEST – GFB Vet, Dr. Ted Morris
TOPIC – Puppy socializing and separation anxiety.
INFO – The importance of the first two months you own your puppy in making them a relaxed, well behaved adult dog.