Penticton RCMP warn of fraud

Suspicious individuals canvassing for UNICEF on behalf of Starbucks attempting to obtain debit and credit card information

A new twist to debit and credit card fraud has been circulating in Penticton.

Penticton RCMP have received a number of complaints this week relating to suspicious individuals canvassing for UNICEF on behalf of Starbucks.

Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said individuals have been carrying a portable debit/credit card machine believed to be capable of capturing the victim’s financial information including their PIN. They inform people they can only accept donations via debit or credit card then take this information to make duplicate cards to withdraw funds or make purchases.

“Often the victims are provided with a realistic looking receipt and some ready brew Starbucks coffee as a thank you,” said Dellebuur.

RCMP said there appears to be two different suspects and they canvass separately. One suspect is described as a black male, 25 to 30 years of age, between five-foot-six and five-foot-eight, medium build, short hair or a shaved head, wearing a business suit and Starbucks shirt with a name tag of Jim. The second suspect is described as a white male, 30 years old, wearing casual business clothing and a UNICEF badge.

Dellebuur said in the past there have been incidents in Penticton where criminals have replaced legitimate debit or credit card readers at unsuspecting businesses with ones that record the clients card and PIN information. The criminals then return, replace the original reader and use the information recorded on the fraudulent reader to make duplicate cards to make purchases and cash withdrawals.

“As a result, most businesses have now taken steps to better secure their debit or credit card readers to prevent unauthorized substitution and recording of card holder data by criminals,” said Dellebuur. “In response, it appears that criminals are now taking these recording card readers directly to the public to gather from unsuspecting victims their financial information to use for making unauthorized purchases and withdrawals.”

“When in doubt, refrain from using your debit or credit cards. Cash is still an acceptable form of payment for most everyday purchases including donations,” said Dellebuur.

Penticton RCMP are reminding people to be diligent when paying with their debit or credit card.

Anyone with information concerning these incidents of fraud is asked to contact the Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300.