Avoid being duped

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On the streets of Toronto, there is a brazen and sophisticated scam that involves fake taxis and a stolen vehicle. Also, it involves sleight-of-hand to swap debit cards.

Stephen Lautens from Toronto, who shared his experience via Twitter in the hope of warning others about this scheme, recently discovered it.

Interview with Yahoo Canada News, Lautens explains that he was leaving a holiday party in Toronto’s business district last Friday when he and his wife hailed what they believed was a Beck taxi with its light on. To protect against COVID-19, the car was equipped with vinyl barriers between the front and back seats. Lautens claims that the driver was extremely friendly.

The driver has to be charming otherwise they won’t be successful.

“We talked about everything from him getting his new snow tires to the Russian prisoner exchange swap to the joys of picking up drunk people from the entertainment district,” he tells Yahoo Canada News.

When they arrived to Lautens’ home, he noticed the meter was about a dollar less than what was the usual price. He tried to pay the driver in cash but he said he only accepts cards. Laurens tried to pay by credit card but it was experiencing connection problems. The driver told him he’d take a look, took the card and the payment machine, then asked if Lautens had a debit card.

“As he’s fiddling on the same machine with the debit card…I noticed the windows were deeply tinted,” he says. “His driver’s licence was displayed on the back of the seat of the car. It contained the meter, the round emergency light and the Beck number. Also, it included a Toronto taxi plate. It was a perfect replica of a Beck taxi.”

When he was handed back his credit card, Lautens noticed it wasn’t his. Lautens was told by the driver that people leave wallets in cabs all the time, so he must have mixed them up and then returned his card.

Lautens was issued a receipt once his debit card had been approved. Lautens then left the vehicle. It wasn’t until he was back home that he noticed the debit card wasn’t his.

“I immediately went to my laptop and locked all my cards,” he says.

‘They’re hoping you’ve had a few drinks’

Lautens then called Beck Taxi. When he gave them the taxi’s three digit number, which Lautens remembered to take down, they told him that the taxi didn’t exist. They were able to look up the time and journey of the trip he’d just taken, and through GPS, Beck confirmed that there were no cabs in that area at that time.

Lautens left an email message to police, and was retorted the next day. They assured him that they were investigating the matter. When he mentioned he had someone else’s debit card, Lautens was told that person had lost $1,500 as a result of a similar scam.

“What they do is pick people up late at night, they’re hoping you’ve had a few drinks, it’s dark in the back, you’re trusting it’s a Beck taxi, so your guard is down,” he says. “The driver has to be charming otherwise they won’t be successful. The card swapping stuff back and forth is like a magician doing card tricks, where you’re not really watching the close up magic.”

Lautens is a lucky man. He managed to lock his accounts on time so that he didn’t lose any money. And he got a free ride home because the payment terminal wasn’t a dummy.

The Beck Taxi car was taken from the driver months ago

Kristine Hubbard (operations manager at Beck Taxi) explains more. In October, a Beck taxi was taken from a driver. Although the incident was reported to licensing and standards and police, the driver who had his car taken has received a new license.

“Now there’s two identical taxis in the city,” she said. “One legitimate taxi that was never intended to be used in this manner is being used now. It is a stolen car, and Toronto police and the city were alerted months ago.

She suggests a few things customers should keep in mind if they want to avoid this situation.

She stresses that “no taxi driver will refuse cash” “That is not the policy of any company, or taxi driver.”

Hubbard also recommends ordering taxis using the Beck app. This allows you to connect with professional-owned vehicles and pay through the app or directly in the car. You can track the car and the driver’s name.

She stresses that you should never lose your debit card when paying for taxis.

“Don’t give it away to anyone,” she said. “The driver must return the point-of-sale terminal to you. You will need to input your PIN number.

Toronto, Ontario Canada-December 1, 2019: Motion blur from a Beck Taxi during a snowfall. The company experiences increased business on bad weather days.

Toronto Police shares tips to avoid scams

Toronto Police stated that they are aware of this scam and warn the public about using public transport that involves debit or credit card transactions.

These are their top tips:

You must never leave your debit/credit card unattended at a Point of Sale terminal.

Use taxi numbers and company names with care when using their services.

– Always be aware of the identification displayed in clear view at the back of the cab by the driver.

– Never make payment for an unknown person using your personal debit card to exchange for cash.

– After each transaction, inspect your card to ensure that it is yours.

When entering your PIN, cover your fingers.

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