Kitchener-Waterloo

Watch out for taxi scam that aims to get debit, card numbers: Guelph police

Police in Guelph, Ont., are looking for two men who are reportedly using a fake taxi to approach people and try to scam them out of their debit or credit card information.

2 men involved, including 1 posing as taxi passenger asking strangers to help pay tab

Guelph police spokesperson Scott Tracey is warning people to be cautious after one man lost more than $700 in a fake taxi scam. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Police in Guelph, Ont., are looking for two men who are reportedly using a fake taxi to approach people and try to scam them out of their debit or credit card information.

One of the men has been posing as a passenger in the taxi and claiming the driver wouldn't let him pay cash due to COVID-19, said police spokesperson Scott Tracey. The man has been approaching people asking them to pay his bill with their debit or credit card, and saying he would reimburse them with cash.

"These people seem intent to prey on people's willingness to help a stranger."

Police have received five calls about the scam and at least one man did offer his debit card to pay for the ride, said Tracey said. When he got home, he realized the card returned to him was not his own.

"The suspects were able to obtain his PIN information and then still have his card because they gave him back a different one. Subsequently they were able to make some purchases."

That man lost about $226 in stolen purchases and another $500 made by e-transfer, said Tracey.

The incident happened Saturday night in the parking lot of the Church of Our Lady in Guelph.

Faded Beck Taxi sign on roof

The two men in the fake taxi are described as being in their 20s with with dark hair. The passenger is described as being about five-foot-six with puffy hair, and was wearing a white shirt and small square glasses at the time.

The men were driving a black car, possibly a Ford Crown Victoria, with a faded Beck Taxi sign on the roof.

Police are asking anyone with information to call police or CrimeStoppers.

In the meantime, Tracey said, people should be cautious about offering their debit and credit cards. Don't hand it over to someone you don't know or in circumstances you didn't initiate, he said.

"Certainly if you do hand over your card make sure it stays within sight. Don't let people get in your line of sight and give them the opportunity to take your card and give you back a different one."

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