Friday, October 3, 2008

Alleged fraudsters used online chat to discuss credit card forgery troubles, prosecution argues - - 01 Oct 2008

OTTAWA-Two of four people on trial in Ottawa for an elaborate alleged credit and debit card fraud scheme chatted online about problems they were having counterfeiting credit cards, Crown prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

In the instant-messaging conversation, two people identified by prosecutors as Ravi Rabbi Shanghavi and Robert Cattral appear to chat about difficulties Mr. Shanghavi was having as a result of the placement and appearance of security holograms on counterfeit cards.

Court heard earlier in the week that the holograms, which include an image of a flying dove on Visa cards and two globes on Mastercards, are one of several security features designed to prevent credit card forgery.

"They are all over the place, left corner, right corner, like half a wing not on," wrote the person prosecutors identified as Mr. Shanghavi in an apparent reference to the Visa dove.

The writer, who used an e-mail address prosecutors allege belonged to Mr. Shanghavi, also wrote about the globe on some of the holograms being "off centre" and how a third person who produced the cards "didn't laminate half of them so you could scratch off the globe." The writer also complained the problems went unnoticed until after he "punched 25 pieces."

Mr. Cattral, 38, and Mr. Shanghavi, 28, are facing charges relating to the trafficking and possession of credit-card data.

Two other people, Catherine Margaret Brunet, 38, and Henry Charles Beauchamp, 39, are facing charges along with Mr. Cattral and Mr. Shanghavi that they were involved in purchasing, possessing and selling devices they knew or ought to have known were going to be used for credit card forgery or fraud.

Prosecutors allege the four were involved with Canadian Barcode and Plastic Card Supply Inc., an Ottawa-based business that acted as a front for a criminal organization specializing in credit and debit card fraud.

On Tuesday, prosecutors entered other instant-messaging conversations between two people they allege were Mr. Shanghavi and Mr. Cattral that included discussions about ATM security.

In the June 2004 online conversation, prosecutors allege that Mr. Shanghavi wrote to Mr. Cattral about how he saw 10 TD Canada Trust ATMs equipped with security-enhancing covers over the PIN pads during a driving trip he made to Toronto. He also wrote that it might be necessary to go into smaller communities where machines without the covers may still be in use.

The instant-messaging chats are among more than 500 phone calls and pieces of online correspondence intercepted by police in their investigation.

By Andrew Seymour

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