Potentially hundreds of customers at local bank branches have had their cards cancelled and replaced this week, often with no warning, in response to an ongoing debit card fraud investigation.
Officially the RCMP are investigating 16 reports of unauthorized withdrawals, including two in the past week, with charges over $30,000 dating back to April 20. The RCMP are also aware of several other cases where the victims have not yet come forward or are dealing exclusively with their banks.
It's believed that the thieves used debit card skimming technology to collect card information and PIN numbers without the knowledge of customers.
Card skimming operations typically involve stealing debit card data from businesses by either their records, by using card-reading devices or modified keypads, or even by placing hidden cameras near ATM machines to read card numbers and record PIN codes. Thieves can then use encoding machines to create fake cards that they use to withdraw cash from a victim's account.
At this point it's unknown where the skimming may have occurred in Whistler, but investigators have been looking at bank statements over several weeks to determine what transactions the victims may have in common.
It's possible that banks used that information this week to cancel any debit cards that may have been compromised, but haven't been used to withdraw any money.
The RCMP have also been collecting any video evidence of the illegal withdrawals, working with the banks.
Pique attempted to contact three local bank branches where debit cards were cancelled but were effectively told that they would not comment on the fraud or the number of customers affected.