Police warning public of recent distraction thefts
The Calgary Police Service is warning Calgarians about recent distraction thefts.
The scam, which has been happening across Canada and is now impacting Calgarians, starts with suspects observing victims as they enter their PIN number, also known as shoulder-surfing, while they make purchases with their debit or credit card. Suspects target victims at retail outlets where contactless payment, such as a tap payment, is not offered.
Then, working in groups of two-to-three people, fraudsters approach the unsuspecting victims, often in the parking lot of the retail store, and tell them they have dropped a $20 bill on the ground. Victims open their wallets to see if they have lost any money and during this interaction are distracted which creates an opportunity for another member of the group to steal the victim’s debit or credit card without the victim’s immediate knowledge.
Once the group is in possession of stolen PINs and debit or credit cards, they make cash withdrawals to purchase pre-paid credit cards or other merchandise. These distraction theft incidents are well thought-out and organized.
Below are steps citizens can take to safeguard themselves from distraction thefts:
- Always shield the PIN pad when entering your PIN at any ATM, retail store or financial institution.
- While at an ATM, or paying for merchandise, be aware of anyone standing nearby who can observe you entering your PIN, also known as shoulder-surfing.
- If you encounter someone who says you have dropped money when you have not, proceed to a safe place and report the incident to police.
- Trust your gut, if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.
Multiple suspects have been identified in Calgary in relation to distraction thefts and warrants have been issued for their arrest.
A total of 156 charges have been laid against the below individuals. Charges include fraud, theft, identity fraud, identity theft, participation in a criminal organization, possession of a stolen credit card and possession of proceeds of crime.
- Elvis STOIAN, 42, is facing 38 charges
- Verginica MUNTEANU, 32, is facing 31 charges
- Cornelia GOLOGAN, 43, is facing 20 charges
- Costica MARIN, 31, is facing 7 charges
- Petrache DADACI, 47, is facing 30 charges
- Persida CORCIU, 43, is facing 30 charges
Anyone with information about distraction theft incidents, or the suspects, are asked to contact police by calling the non-emergency number at 403-266-1234, or anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:
APP: "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store