Thursday, December 17, 2009



The following relates to three people arrested in the Richmond and North Vancouver area, however, these guys are totally mobile and could well have been working on Vancouver Island. It should also be noted that there are likely many crooks out there trying to steal money who are using this type of technology all the time. So, if you are a merchant you need to be aware, and if you are a customer you need to watch your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity.

This is the time of year when debit and credit cards get a serious workout and is likely the time of year these crooks are making some serious 'hay' at your expense.

On December 5th, 2009, the RCMP Federal Commercial Crime Section’s Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team, with the assistance of the Richmond and North Vancouver RCMP arrested three individuals involved in swapping Pin Pad’s throughout the Lower Mainland and stealing payment card information.

This investigation began on December 2nd, 2009, after the RCMP Federal Commercial Crime Section’s Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team received information pertaining to three males from Montreal suspected in setting up credit card skimming operations in the Vancouver area. Subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Ibrahim ABOU AL NAJA (19 years old), Youssef DOHA (20), and Amir Omar ELARROUSSI (19).

Searches of a rental car and two hotel rooms produced pin pads, counterfeit credit cards, modified gift cards, two “Personal Digital Assistant” (PDA) devices, two laptops, electronic tools, printed circuit boards, credit card readers, supplies for modifying pin pads and cash. Expert examination of one of the pin pads revealed “blue tooth” and “e-storage” technology, that is capable of storing and transmitting up to 5,000 stolen numbers remotely to a "PDA".

With advances in technology, law enforcement continues to see a dramatic increase in the volume of payment card skimming and counterfeiting schemes within the Lower Mainland and across Canada. The Canadian Bankers Association ranks Canada as second highest in the world in the use of debit cards as the preferred method of payment and this is being exploited by criminals.

Merchants Can Prevent This Theft

This is a good opportunity to remind merchants of preventive steps that can significantly reduce this type of criminal activity from taking place. Merchants are encouraged to:

  • Keep their Pin Pad terminals out of sight when not in use or securely fasten them to the counter
  • Lock terminals in a safe place at the end of the shift, much the same as cash
  • Maintain a log of terminal usage at the beginning and at the end of each shift
  • Place security stickers on terminals, and examine terminals daily to ensure they have not been tampered
  • Know your employees
Consumers Need To Be Aware

It is also highly recommended that consumers pro-actively monitor their payment card statements for any suspicious transactions and change their PIN numbers on a regular basis.


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