Toronto police have busted an elaborate debit and credit card fraud ring that gave five alleged suspects a lavish lifestyle - including the chance to open a spa, investigators say.
Police say they seized $285,000 worth of property during raids on four properties as part of Project Tuna - three in Yorkville and one on the Danforth.
The suspects allegedly used card skimmers built into banking terminals at legitimate businesses to record credit card data. Pinhole cameras would also record the victims' security codes. The suspects would then use the two pieces of information to make cloned credit cards which were used to buy merchandise.
Det. Sgt. Niels Sondergaard says the calculated loss of the fraud ring is $485,000 - and rising.
Sondergaard says the suspects were "astute" about how they used the stolen information.
"They didn't act right away, they sat on the information for a while and they started a couple of months after that," he says.
Upscale stores were targeted, and the suspects used distraction techniques to insert skimming chips and pinhole cameras. One store had 216 of its clients victimized.
The suspects' lifestyles included "luxurious spending sprees," Const. Todd Hall says. The allegedly cloned cards were used by the suspects to shop at exclusive businesses on Bloor Street, like Holt Renfrew and Prada. Police also suspect the funds were used to build a fancy spa on Danforth Avenue.
"Everything from the electrical to the drywall to the tiles to the flooring, we can relate back to fraudulent credit cards," Hall says.
Police are encouraging people to keep tabs on their credit card statements, and to report any unauthorized purchases.
Toronto residents Goran Sadic, 44; Filip Djukic, 38; Julia Sung, 25 and Milena Sadic, 41, face hundreds of fraud-related charges.