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VANCOUVER Police are advising the public to be cautious following a string of debit card thefts and frauds targeting intoxicated people late at night in the Granville Entertainment District. Since January 2017 there have been nine incidents involving thousands of dollars reported to police and investigators believe there are more.

Suspects are looking over the shoulders of people withdrawing money from ATM machines, and obtaining their PIN numbers.

In some instances, once the transaction is finished, they steal the debit card – sometimes replacing it with an expired card so they remain unaware of the theft. They then use the card with the PIN to remove cash from the victim’s account.

In other instances, suspects approach people who have just used the machine, and who have their cash and debit card in their hand. They convince the intoxicated victim that the card they are holding belongs to the thief, who had left it in the machine, and then swap it for an inactive card. Again, they use the PIN number to take cash from the victim’s bank account, sometimes travelling to several locations, and always avoiding the ATM cameras.

“Awareness is always your best defense,” says Vancouver Police Sgt. Jason Robillard. “Look around you and see if someone is standing close enough to see your pin. Move close to the ATM and use your body or hand to block prying eyes.”

 

Prevention Tips

 

* Be aware of your surroundings – it you feel unsafe and if someone suspicious is loitering around the ATM, leave immediately

* Always conceal your PIN number when you are entering it – stand close to the machine

* If you are planning a night out with drinking, consider withdrawing cash prior to going out and not late at night when you are intoxicated

* Don’t accept “help” or allow anyone to interfere with your transaction

* Consider lowering your daily withdrawal limit

* Monitor your banking transaction regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately