Toronto police have arrested a 14-year-old boy in a recent taxi scam investigation after a TikToker tipped off residents about the scam that nearly cost him his debit card on Sunday night.
On Monday, Toronto police received a call after someone observed a taxi involved in a similar scam in the Cedarbrae Mall parking lot.
Police said they arrested the 14-year-old boy and he was charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.
Toronto model, Saja Kilani, has warned locals and shared her story on TikTok and claimed a taxi scam involving a teenager and a driver was trying to steal bank cards from customers and passers-by.
Kilani says she was walking around the Bay and Yorkville area after doing some errands when a teenager stopped her and asked if she could cover her taxi fare as they only accept cards and only he only had cash.
The boy showed her the money and said he would pay her if she helped him. Not yet skeptical, Saja decided to help her.
“You know, I thought to myself that if I was in a situation like this, I would like someone to help me too, so I decided to help and walked towards the parked taxi” Saja said. “I asked the driver if he had just driven this boy and he said yes. So I gave him my card.
Saja knew something was wrong as soon as she handed her debit card to the driver, she explains.
“I was handing my debit card to the driver and the teenager suddenly started talking to me really fast and was trying to get my attention. He even said he would pay me extra money if I wanted to tip the driver. driver, and I could see he was fidgeting a bit,” she said.
Kilani then noticed out of the corner of his eye that the taxi driver had secretly swiped his card while he was fixing the machine. He then put his card in the machine and gave it back to her.
However, after paying and returning the machine to the driver with his card, the driver returned it, but the card did not have his name on it.
Kilani knew it was someone else’s card.
“That’s when she realized it was a scam,” Kilani said.
She immediately opened the front door of the cab and leaned over and told the driver it wasn’t her card.
“I said to him, ‘I see the map between your legs. Give it to me’. And his first reaction was to laugh and go, ‘Oh, did you see that? It was just a prank,” says Kilani.
His answer is what really shocked me – he just acted like it was something cool. And what’s absurd to me is that he kept trying to defend himself, like he wasn’t stealing. If I hadn’t asked for my card, he could have left with it.Saja Kilani
After that, Kilani says she took out her phone to film it.
“As soon as I started pulling out my phone, he put his mask on and his son or whoever put his mask on as well.”
As soon as she started taking a video of him, he started booting up but Kilani managed to get details of his car and license plate on video.
Kilani’s video went viral quickly over the weekend and garnered over a million views and hundreds of likes.
She replaced her card online and then filed a police report using the details she managed to capture on video. Because her story was so successful, she was able to speed up the process of complaining to the police.
What do these “taxi scams” look like?
Taxi scams look exactly like what Saja experienced on Sunday.
Toronto police say the scam involves a vehicle (e.g., taxi) parking in a busy area in the middle of the day. One of the suspects poses as a driver and the other as a customer. The customer approaches the unsuspecting victim after a heated argument and asks him to pay via his debit card as the driver refuses to accept cash due to COVID-19.
After the victim hands over their debit card to the driver, the customer distracts the victim and the debit card is replaced with another card.
The POS terminal stores the victim’s card data and PIN, which are then used by scammers to perform fraudulent transactions using the victim’s card.
How can people protect themselves?
Toronto police are asking people to be vigilant when using public transit that involves debit or credit card transactions.
People should be careful of any taxis that claim they don’t accept cash, as all licensed taxi companies accept cash as payment.
Residents are also strongly advised not to leave their debit or credit card unattended in a POS terminal, to cover their fingers when entering their PIN and to inspect their cards after each transaction to make sure it is their card. Customers should also make sure to pick up the driver’s machine while paying instead of handing over their card.
Finally, people should know taxi numbers and company names when using their services and be aware of driver identification which is displayed prominently to the customer at the back of the cab.
Toronto scams are on the rise
Toronto is witnessing a lot of scams which have increased lately.
Recently, a CTV report warned small business owners and workers of a new scam in the Greater Toronto Area that targeted debit and credit payment terminals in stores. Scammers stole payment machines and then used them to refund money to stolen credit cards.
The scammers then go to ATMs and withdraw money from credit cards. Police are calling these thefts part of a “reimbursement scam”.
Hundreds of charges have also been laid in connection with a recent Toronto moving scam in which moving companies recovered someone’s belongings after offering a rock bottom price and having customers sign contracts without final amount. The movers would then hold the customers’ belongings until a higher amount was paid, which was usually thousands of dollars more than the price originally quoted.
Anyone with information or who believes they have been the victim of a taxi scam is asked to contact police at 416-808-4300, Crime Stoppers Anonymous at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or www.222tips.com.