Toronto police have arrested a 14-year-old boy in a recent taxi fraud investigation after TikToker warned residents about a scam that nearly cost her her debit card Sunday night.
On Monday, Toronto police received a call after someone noticed a taxi involved in a similar scam at the Cedarbrae Mall parking lot.
Police say they have arrested the 14-year-old boy and charged him with possession of property obtained with a felony of more than $5,000.
Toronto-based model Saja Kilani warned residents and shared her story on TikTok and claimed that a taxi scam involved a teen and a driver trying to steal bank cards from customers and passersby.
Kelani says she was walking in the Bay Area and Yorkville after doing some groceries when a teenage boy stopped her and asked if she could cover the taxi fare because they only accepted cards and he only had cash.
The boy showed her the money and said he would pay her if she helped him. Suja was not skeptical yet, so he decided to help him.
“You know, I thought to myself that if I was in a situation like this, I wanted someone to help me too, so I decided to help and got into the parked taxi,” says Saja. “I asked the driver if he had just driven this boy and he said yes. So I gave him my ticket.”
She explained that Saja knew something was wrong the moment she handed the debit card to the driver.
“I was giving my debit card to the driver and the little boy suddenly started talking to me very quickly and was trying to get my attention. He even said he would pay me extra money if I wanted to tip the driver, and I could see he was getting a little fidgety.”
Then, from the corner of her eye, Kilani noticed that the taxi driver had secretly removed her card while repairing the machine. Then he put her card in the machine and gave it back to her.
However, after I paid and returned the machine to the driver with her card, the driver returned it – but the card didn’t have her name on it.
Al-Kilani knew it was someone else’s card.
“That’s when I found out it was a scam,” Kilani said.
I immediately opened the taxi front door and swerved and told the driver it wasn’t her ticket.
I told him: I can see the card between your legs. Give it to me’. And his first reaction was to start laughing and say, “Oh, did you see that? It was just a joke,” says Al-Kilani.
His response is what really shocked me – he toyed with him like it was something cool. And the ridiculous thing to me is that he kept trying to fend for himself, like he’s not stealing. If I hadn’t asked for my card back, he could have left it away.Saja Al Kilani
After that, Kilani says she pulled out her phone to photograph it.
“As soon as I started taking out my phone, he put on his mask and his son or whoever was wearing his mask.”
Once I started shooting a video of him, he started driving but Al Kilani was able to get details about his car and its license plate on the video.
Kelani’s video went viral over the weekend and garnered over a million views and hundreds of likes.
She exchanged her card online and then filed a police report using the details she was able to obtain in the video. Since her story gained so much traction, she was able to relate the police claim process.
What do these “taxi scams” look like?
The taxi scams are just like what Saja witnessed on Sunday.
Toronto police say the scam involves a car (for example, a taxi) that will stop in a crowded area at midday. One of the suspects pretends to be a driver and the other as a customer. The customer approaches the unsuspecting victim after a heated argument and asks them to pay via their debit card because the driver refuses to accept cash due to COVID-19.
After the victim hands his debit card to the driver, the customer gets distracted and the debit card is changed to another.
The POS terminal record is the victim’s card data and PIN, which fraudsters then use to conduct fraudulent transactions using the victim’s card.
How can people protect themselves?
Toronto Police are asking people to be careful when using public transportation that leads to debit or credit card transactions.
People should beware of all taxis claiming to not accept cash because all licensed taxi companies accept cash.
Residents are also advised not to leave their debit or credit card unattended inside a point of sale anywhere, to cover their fingers when entering their PIN numbers, and to check their card after each transaction to ensure it is theirs. Customers must also make a point to pick up the device from the driver during checkout rather than hand over their card.
Finally, people should be aware of taxi numbers and company names when using their services and be aware of the driver ID that is clearly displayed to the customer at the back of the cab.
Toronto scams on the rise
Toronto is seeing a lot of scams that have been on the rise lately.
Recently, a CTV news story Small business owners and workers have warned of a new scam in the Greater Toronto Area targeting debit and credit payment terminals in stores. Fraudsters steal payment machines and then use them to return funds to stolen credit cards.
Then the scammers go to the bank machines and withdraw money from credit cards. Police describe these thefts as part of a “refund scam.”
Hundreds of charges have been brought recently Toronto moving scam Where the carriers would pick up a person’s belongings after setting a really low price and getting customers to sign contracts with no final payments. The operators would then withhold customers’ properties until a higher amount was paid – which was usually thousands of dollars more than the original price offered.
Anyone with information, or who believes they have been the victim of a taxi scam, are urged to call the police at 416-808-4300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or at www.222tips.com.