RCMP are recommending 13 counts of fraud in connection to a pre-paid Mastercard scam after two arrests were made without incident at the Langford Superstore on Thursday, and West Shore RCMP are coordinating with the U.S. Secret Service in an attempt to ferret out what they suspect is a broader network of criminal activity.
According to RCMP spokesperson Const. Alex Berube, the two suspects had been uploading stolen U.S. Mastercard information onto pre-paid Mastercards to purchase goods from Duncan Superstore before moving on to the West Shore location at which they were arrested.
They were found out by the Duncan Superstore when internal investigators noticed the card numbers registered electronically as being used to make many purchases on Dec. 22, 2014 did not match the card numbers printed on the actual physical cards used attempting to make 85 purchases – 54 of which were successful. Internal communications between Superstore locations made the Langford location aware of this fraud, which enabled them to contact police when they suspected the activity in their own store.
Essentially, the pre-paid Mastercards had been purchased using stolen credit card data, which was then copied onto the pre-paid credit cards.
"We are suspecting that there is a larger network behind this, and we're going to be looking into who these people are," Berube said.
Berube also said that credit card fraud in general is a significant issue, and it's one the RCMP is dedicated to pursuing.
"It doesn't affect an individual, but it affects business, and therefore effects our economy," he said.
Berube has a number of pieces of advice for businesses and citizens concerned about credit card fraud.
During a transaction, watch that the card being used to make the purchase is the same type as the card type that shows up on the register when it's rung through. A pre-paid Mastercard, for example, will show up on the register as such, and not as a regular Mastercard.
Check the security features of all cards people attempt to use for payment. Ensure that the embossing and hologram features are consistent and official (do they appear to have been tampered with?), and that the signature on the card matches the signature of the person using it.
Anyone concerned or suspicious of a card's authenticity can call the authorization centre for the company who issued the card. An operator will tell you what to do, but never risk your personal safety should you feel threatened.
For business owners, always conduct background checks and check the references of prospective employees, especially if your business offers pre-paid credit cards or electronic gift cards.
The 18-year-old Vancouver man and 19-year-old Burnaby man charged in this latest case have been released on conditions and will next appear in court March 24 at the Western Communities Courthouse.