A man and woman from Surrey are facing multiple charges after Vancouver police say they uncovered a huge new credit card scam that goes after customers' Royal Bank of Canada reward points.
Daniel Adam Suchecki, 34, and Christa Dawn Hucal, 25, who police believe are the ringleaders, have been charged with numerous offences related to identity theft, including impersonation, possession of stolen mail and forgery.
Police say this case has uncovered a new method of stealing identities and property by using information from a victim's RBC Visa statements — sometimes obtained by mail theft — to redeem points and purchase gift cards.
Det. Phil Ens said the scam is likely to go unnoticed until the victim tries to redeem their points.
"Always be aware, number one. When you get your credit card statements, especially if you're with RBC, be aware of what your redeem points are...and if all of a sudden they're disappearing, you might make a call," he said.
The fraud was uncovered as part of Project Lancer, a joint investigation between the Auto Crime Enforcement Unit, the Identity Theft Unit and the Canada Border Services Agency.
The investigation began in January after officers spotted two men in the parking lot of the Starlight Casino in New Westminster.
When police checked the cars, one was a stolen pickup truck and the other was a rental car that had been rented with a fraudulent credit card.
Police said they also recognized the suspect in the car as someone who had a long history of fraud, theft and identity theft in the Lower Mainland.
When investigators searched the suspect's Surrey apartment, they say they found about 200 credit cards and IDs in other names, together with stolen mail, a credit card reader and writer and credit card data.
They also found memory sticks containing templates for driver’s licences, SIN cards and birth certificates along with finance credit applications, another 100 different personal IDs and $20,000 in e-gift and hard-copy gift cards.
In addition, the probe recovered three stolen vehicles.
There are believed to be more than 100 victims of the scam, including some from Alberta and the United States whose credit card details were stolen from computers in B.C., in what police are calling "unbelievable access."
Police believe Suchecki and Hucal had others working for them, since the stolen mail was seized from nearly every jurisdiction in the Lower Mainland.
Ens says police have been working with RBC since they first learned of the scam and continue to advise them about making adjustments to their security systems.
The scam was made possible in part because flags were not raised when the billing address of these gift cards was different from the credit card owner's address.