Whether it’s small-time crooks getting tricky with stickers on barcodes at Shoppers Drug Mart or multinational credit card companies writing shady terms of service to hoodwink grandmas, there are some serious risks involved in buying gift cards these days.
Like, risks beyond losing one’s wallet with various Subway, Sephora and Starbucks cards inside. Thoughts and prayers.
The Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes Unit announced Thursday morning that they had discovered a “sophisticated forgery lab” and some $500,000 worth of fake gift cards while searching multiple local properties last month as part of a “fraudulent retail gift cards investigation.”
“Between July 2022 and January 2023, three people operated a sophisticated forgery lab,” reads a release issued by police announcing the investigation, which has been deemed Project Wash.
“On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, officers executed search warrants at a business in Toronto and a home in Richmond Hill.”
During the January 25 bust, police are said to have seized “a vast amount of fraudulent gift cards, valued at approximately $500,000,” alongside various pieces of computer equipment and electronics “used for altering and manufacturing gift cards.”
Investigators also found “a quantity of fake government-issued identity documents” at one of the properties searched.
Richmond Hill residents Iouri Perett, 38; Vitalii Fokov, 35; and Elizaveta Perett, 34, were all arrested as a result of the investigation.
The former two suspects are facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and dealing in altered gift cards, while all three have been charged with the possession of proceeds obtained by crime.
Police have not yet released any details regarding how many fraudulent gift cards were produced in total, where they went, or if they were purchased by unsuspecting consumers.
Images of seized goods show cards from various popular retailers including Canadian Tire, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Starbucks, Xbox and The Gap.
This article was originally sourced from www.dailyhive.com