Thieves targeting payment machine terminals in refund scam

Small business owners and workers may want to keep an eye out for debit and credit card payment terminals in their stores as a new scam targets these machines in the Greater Toronto Area.

» I could not believe it. We had five payment terminals stolen from our stores,” said Alan Kideckel, CEO and President of International Pool and Spa Centers.

Kideckel said after a successful summer selling pools, spas and supplies, he was shocked when his store was targeted by criminals this fall who stole his payment machines.

“It looks like someone would come in and try to distract our employees and then another person would steal the payment machine. We think it’s linked to organized crime,” Kideckel said.

Police and payment system companies say the thefts are part of a ‘refund scam’ where thieves steal payment terminals, usually from stores that sell expensive items, then refund the money to cards stolen credit.

“From what I understand, once they have the terminals, they refund the money to stolen credit cards. Then they go to an ATM and withdraw the money,” said said Kideckel.

Kideckel turned over photos of the suspects to police, and the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) said the thefts were still under investigation.

“It was later determined that the suspects processed approximately $15,000 in debit refund transactions over the following days,” an HRPS spokesperson told CTV News Toronto.

Moneris is Canada’s largest payment processor and said it is aware payment terminals are being targeted by thieves for various scams.

Yale Holder, vice president of customer experience at Moneris, said all merchants should keep a watchful eye on their payment machines, especially during the busy holiday season.

« It’s refund fraud activity that we’ve seen increase over the past two months, particularly this year, » Holder said. « Never leave your terminal unattended and always make sure you’re there when customers use them. »

« If you have to be away and you’re short-staffed, try to see if you can secure and secure the terminals to the counter or some other way to prevent them from being taken, » Holder said.

Holder said most terminals have security features and pin technology that need to be enabled so that if a terminal is stolen, thieves won’t be able to use it.

Any business defrauded in this refund scam should get all their money back, but businesses are advised to report a payment terminal theft as soon as it happens.

Halton police say anyone who may have information related to the theft of the terminals should call the 2nd District Bureau of Criminal Investigations at 905-825-4777 ext. 2216. Anonymous tips may also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at


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