The Canadian RCMP have found themselves to be out over $100,000 after a gas card was cloned by organized criminals.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) often warns the public of various scams and frauds. Now, in an ironic twist, one of their fraud investigations wound up being about themselves as the victims.
In 2016, someone managed to clone a gas card used by the RCMP. In total, criminals racked up $104,000 in fraudulent purchases. The fraud went undetected for months until an audit eventually picked up on the money drain. From the CBC:
“Sometime in the summer of 2016, one of the credit cards that the RCMP uses to purchase gas at gas stations was cloned. Eventually when we audited the card we realized that the card had been defrauded and we opened an investigation.”
The cards require a driver’s code but don’t have chip technology.
Habel said the purchases — mostly gasoline — were made in the Greater Montreal area.
Unlike personal credit cards, the bills for the RCMP’s gas acquisition cards don’t go to individual officers. There’s also no predictable pattern when it comes to how often a car or acquisition card will be used, which made it harder for the people who handle the bills to spot the fraudsters until the card was routinely audited.
“For sure there was a delay between the time the card was cloned and the suspects started using the card and when we discovered that it was actually happening.”
While Habel would not say when exactly the RCMP discovered the gas card had been cloned, losses are usually supposed to be reported in the Public Accounts in the year they are detected. That would put the discovery somewhere between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.
So, that would go a long way into explaining why it took so long for the report to become public. Even the RCMP had no idea this was happening for some time. The report also says that fraudsters have been identified and the RCMP are working with crown prosecutors to lay charges. The RCMP also says that changes have been made to avoid similar incidents in the future.
There are a lot of angles one can look at a story like this. One such angle is knowing that a criminal is either incredibly gutsy or incredibly stupid to attempt to pull something like this on the RCMP. Judging by the fact that the RCMP has identified the fraudster, it looks like the criminals in question fall into the category of incredibly stupid even if they managed to get away with this for so long.
Another angle is something victims of fraud can relate to. Victims know full well that there are a range of emotions one goes through. You feel violated, angry, confused, scared, paranoid, and even helpless to name a few emotional responses. You can definitely bet that after this incident, there were a few of these emotions running through the ranks.
That, of course, leads to another angle where you know full well they are going to be motivated to track down those responsible for this. Not only do you have the underlying emotions that come with being the victim of fraud, but also the fact that the resources to go after those responsible are available. You bet those resources are going to be used.
More over top of this is the risk of public perception. If even the RCMP can fall victim to credit card fraud, what are my chances as a citizen? So, even if emotions aren’t a motivational factor to go after those responsible, the public perception of the RCMP is.
In addition to this, there’s the prosecution angle. Knowing that the perpetrators have been identified, it would be surprising if the RCMP didn’t try and go for maximum penalties. Those responsible, at minimum, tested how well the RCMP can handle fraud cases. Now that this case is also in the public eye, here is the chance to make an example out of someone. Try and pull something like this on the RCMP and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At the very least, citizens could feel a little bit safer knowing that fraudsters do get charged.
If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that if you are the victim of credit card fraud, you know the RCMP knows what it’s like to be the victim. So, there is that misery loves company aspect going on underneath all of this. How strong that underlying aspect is depends on different people. Still, it’s hard to say that this isn’t present in all of this.
It’s certainly not every day you hear about the RCMP being a victim of fraud. The only way this story could have been any more ironic is if the victim was the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) instead of the RCMP. Certainly, the word embarrassment is being tossed around regarding this story.
Obviously, this story is still developing, so it’s likely that more details will emerge at a later time. Still, it’s certainly one of the more unusual cases floating around.