Police sent out a warning to residents and business owners about a new scam showing up in Elgin County.
The fraud works like this: The scammer uses the tap feature via various apps on their phones to pay for items at local businesses. The debit machine does not accept the purchase, and the scammer knows it won’t. They then use this as an excuse to say their app isn’t working properly and they just need to input the card number manually into the machine. The scammer uses a stolen card number or a randomly generated valid card number. If the business allows the scammer to input the number into the machine then it will likely be accepted and an innocent person will be on the hook for the purchase.
The scammer will usually purchase things they can sell to make money like lottery tickets, cigarettes, gift cards or alcohol, police said.
Const. Troy Carlson with Elgin OPP said the police have received some complaints from business owners about the scam.
“It’s prevalent within and around Elgin County. It has shown up throughout the county,” Carlson said.
Carlson said police started to hear complaints around the beginning of the new year about the new scam.
“Other areas have experienced it before but it’s fairly new certainly in our area,” Carlson said.
Police estimate the amount stolen from this scam runs into the thousands of dollars range. It could be even more as some businesses may not report it. The business could be on the hook for the money if, as a part of their agreement with the debit machine company, they’re not supposed to manually input credit card numbers, Carlson explained.
“The store is breaching … the agreement because they are actually defeating all the built-in security measures by inputting the number manually,” Carlson said.
Police recommendations to help protect yourself from becoming a victim:
Scammers will often do a test purchase to see if the stolen number works, which may look like a very small purchase like ones under $2. Check credit card and bank statement to spot unauthorized purchases or very small purchases. Report any unusual purchases to your financial institution immediately.
Store employees and owners should be cautious when accepting requests to manually input card numbers in point of sale processing machines.
Read the original story over at the St. Thomas Times Journal.