Payment scam using administration cards costing Calgary businesses thousands, police investigation underway

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A Calgary restaurant is trying to warn other businesses about a scam it says is making the rounds in the city.

Around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, Chianti Cafe & Restaurant’s surveillance video captured a man entering their establishment to pick up a takeout order.

He paid his bill for $88.11 cents using a MasterCard, adding a $20 tip. But when the payment went through, it was for a total of $902.11.

“I thought I made a mistake entering the money. So I refunded the money,” general manager Todd Duly said, adding he thought he had somehow charged the customer $881.11 instead of the $88.11 owing.

The total was refunded back to the client, without staff realizing he had swapped the original MasterCard used for payment with a debit card for the refund.

“Everything looked like it was above board until I looked at the small print and I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Something’s up here.’”

It was only when Chianti reported the problem to payment processing company Moneris that they realized what had happened: Moneris told them the customer had used an administration card to change the amount owed, and the original MasterCard that was billed in the sale had been stolen.

“We phoned Moneris and they said they couldn’t do anything about it,” owner Barbara Masterson said. “They knew that we were scammed. They said that he did use an admin card to change the settings and there was nothing they could do.”

After posting the surveillance video to Facebook, Masterson said she soon realized her business wasn’t alone. Reports of similar scams came pouring in from several businesses all over the city.
“They had somehow manipulated the machine with an administrative card and had manually put something in and then had it refunded to a different card. So we ended up being out a couple thousand dollars,” Dennis Madden, general manager of the Calgary Rose and Crown said.

Various Mr. Sub locations have also been hit by a similar scam, costing the company over $1,600. Surveillance tapes appeared to show the same man that Chianti captured Saturday.

It’s not just restaurants that are being targeted by this type of scam. Great Clips hair salon said over the past year they’ve seen a similar scam attempted, hitting at least five of their locations in Okotoks and Calgary.

“They would proceed to put through a tip amount of about $900. It seemed to be the same on just about every single transaction. They realized that it’s a mistake and then say, ‘That’s a mistake, I need a refund,’” regional manager Rita Alberto said.

Moneris said in a statement to Global News on Tuesday that while it can’t discuss the details of merchant accounts, it is “currently investigating the events with our fraud and risk team.”

“Moneris takes issues of fraud seriously,” the statement reads.

“We actively provide merchants with tips and guidance to avoid fraud. When a merchant starts working with Moneris, we provide documentation on proper card acceptance and device management procedures as part of the merchant agreement and operating manual.”

A Calgary police investigation into the matter is ongoing, but businesses aren’t wasting time warning others about the scam

Read the full story over at Global News.

This story was summarized by Canadian Fraud News Inc.