RCMP are investigating four reports of debit car fraud in Whistler, similar to cases that were reported at malls in the Lower Mainland last year.
Roughly $3,000 was withdrawn using phony cards, and the RCMP have heard that up to 20 others may have been affected by the high-tech scam.
According to Sergeant Steve Wright, the thieves place a sophisticated overlay for debit card machines to steal card information and record your pin number, which they can use to create the phony cards. The police are looking at bank statements from victims to determine where the fraud originated, and are following up with the banks as well. They are also tracking down any video footage they can find where the cash withdrawls took place.
Sometimes the scam can be an inside job, but that's not necessarily always the case. Employees working cash registers don't know if their card swiping devices have been tampered with.
According to Wright, the first incident was reported on April 20 and the last on April 24. All reported cases involved cards from TD Canada Trust, but the technology can be used to scam other bank cards as well.
Pique attempted to contact TD Canada Trust, but did not receive a reply by press time.
Wright is encouraging people to check over their bank statements carefully, and to report any fraud to their bank and the RCMP.
Businesses have been alerted, and some have taken steps. For example, one grocery store is no longer allowing customers to swipe their own cards.
Festival goers well behaved
The RCMP added 24 extra shifts during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, boosting numbers with members from detachments in Squamish and North Vancouver.
Despite crowds between 10,000 and 15,000 for the main festival events, Sergeant Wright of the Whistler RCMP says no major incidents were reported.
"Our members poured out a lot of liquor on the hillside, but people for the most part were very well behaved," he said. "There were no assaults, no serious MVAs."
The RCMP did hand out a lot of tickets for drinking in public, and 22 were arrested for liquor issues.
They did give marks to the private security hired by Watermark, especially for the all-night D.J. Experience party which sold out 1,800 tickets.
The next event on the Whistler RCMP's radar is the Victoria Day long weekend, a time when high school students from across the Lower Mainland head to Whistler. The RCMP is bringing up the Integrated Gang Taskforce to keep their eye on possible gang members travelling to Whistler to prevent the gang war taking place in the Lower Mainland spilling over into Sea to Sky. They will also make use of the Integrated Road Safety Taskforce to police highways and make road checks, and will bring in additional officers to patrol the village by day and night, and to police public parks for alcohol infractions.
As well, Whistler detachment members will be out in full force, and as was the case during the festival, no officers are allowed to go on vacation for that weekend.
For next year the RCMP is hoping to bring a family friendly event to town to curtail the violence, underage drinking and intimidation that takes place during the long weekend. But this year the goal is to maintain as much of a presence as possible.
The RCMP are also working with hotels, who have had to evict guests in the past for rowdy behaviour. In some cases the RCMP will call the teen's parents to come and pick them up if they have nowhere to go.
Former Whistler RCMP officer makes national news
A former member of the Whistler RCMP detachment made national news last week after attempting to crack down on liquor infractions in the town of Synyard, Saskatchewan.
Sergeant Jon Russell, who served in Whistler for roughly 18 months, from early 2007 to mid-2008, has been called out by a local bar and hotel owners after cracking down on liquor offences. Since he arrived in town in July the number of impaired driving charges and liquor licence violations has doubled, and he's instituted a program where officers walk through the town's five bars looking for infractions.
Hotel owner Larry Borzak says the level of enforcement is strangling the hospitality trade, and he is organizing a meeting on May 5 for citizens to vent.
Sergeant Steve Wright, who worked with Sgt. Russell in Whistler, used the story as an example of how different things are in Whistler.
"We're very proactive in terms of what we do in Whistler... as a previous supervisor worked hard to improve the relationship (between police and) bar owners," said Wright. "Now the relationship is very good, we're constantly in contact and we're working together to improve safety and enjoyment of the village."