News » Whistler

Pharmacy employees catch debit card fraud ploy, twice

RCMP warn that fraudsters are at work in village



The Whistler RCMP have responded to several reports of men attempting to install rigged card-swiping terminals at local businesses, which thieves use to record debit card numbers and PIN numbers that they can use to make fake cards.

On Sept. 14 at roughly 9 p.m. the RCMP got a call from the Rexall Pharmacy in the Whistler Marketplace that two men were working together on the fraud. One man distracted the teller with a large cash purchase while another switched in a swiper that the clerk immediately recognized was fake.

The men returned at roughly 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 16 to try again, and the police were called once again. The RCMP are reviewing video from the store to try and identify the suspects.

On Sept. 16 and 17, two unknown males attempted to switch machines at another Whistler business. The scam was the same, with one of the males distracting the teller and the other switching out the debit/credit card key pad with one that has been altered.

The RCMP are asking Whistler residents to monitor their bank activity closely, and to immediately report any suspected fraud to the RCMP and their banks.

Businesses should also be aware that thieves are targeting local establishments and inspect their keypads regularly.

If you have any information regarding any of these incidents contact the Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.


RCMP launch ecstasy awareness campaign

The RCMP's Drug and Organized Crime Awareness team have partnered with a Vancouver family to increase awareness of the potential harmful effects of "club drug" ecstasy.

Erin Spanevello, a Vancouver model, died as a result of cardiac and respiratory failure in May 2008 after taking "a lethal dose" of ecstasy. She was 21 years old.

Her family have agreed to use their experience in a wider E-Aware campaign targeting parents and youth.

"We knew nothing about ecstasy and now Erin is dead," said Catherine Spanevello, Erin's mother. "As our children deal with the pressures of returning to school and many move away from home for the first time it is important that parents inform themselves of the dangers of ecstasy before it's too late."

Inspector Dan Quirion, the officer in charge of the RCMP Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service, launched E-Aware with a warning that buyer's should beware.

"Despite what many believe, ecstasy is far from being a safe or recreational drug," he said. "This illicit drug is made with a number of toxic chemicals, and can be lethal. There is no quality control, no dosage control and there is no safe amount to take.

"By telling Erin's story through Project E-Aware we hope to encourage parents to learn about the dangers of ecstasy so that they will feel comfortable speaking with their children about the drug."

Ecstasy is typically sold as pills and is popular at raves and dance parties for the euphoric feeling it produces. It works by tricking the user's brain into releasing serotonin, a natural brain chemical that creates a feeling of joy, sexual stimulation, and other positive emotions.

Some of the negative side-effects include organ failure as people who have taken the drug overheat; water poisoning as a result of users drinking too much water to combat the thirsty feeling that the drug produces; the use of impure ingredients that can be toxic or poisonous; injuries and diseases caused by increased promiscuity and unprotected sex; possible brain damage as a result of interference with serotonin producers and receptors, and even Parkinson's Disease, although the link has not been proven.

Sergeant Steve Wright of the Whistler RCMP said the E-Aware program is particularly important for Whistler where the drug shows up quite often.

"At the raves we have in town we'll quite often (find the drug). At the last big Pride event we dealt with a couple of overdoses. We deal with people on the weekends that are under the effects," he said. "Most people don't know what chemical and what poisons may be in there, which is particularly frightening for young people who can already have trouble with the effects of the drug."

Wright says Erin's poster will be in local schools and libraries. He referred parents to a website,


Police investigate bike theft

Between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 19 a thief entered a residence at The Lagoons on Northlands Boulevard through an open door on the patio, stealing a mountain bike valued at $7,000. The bike is described as a White Intense.

The RCMP also responded to another theft between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the Riverside RV Park. A thief broke into a trailer and stole two laptop computers.

If you have any information on either theft contact the Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044.

The RCMP remind people to lock doors and windows day and night, and to take extra steps to secure their valuables.