UPDATED – Thunder Bay Police Issue Warning About ‘Shoulder Surfing’ Fraud

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Fraud Targets everyone

Police in Dryden Report Incidents at area Walmart

THUNDER BAY – UPDATED – Thunder Bay Police have issued a public notice for residents to be aware and protect themselves from a group of fraudsters who may be headed to Thunder Bay.

There are also reports of similar frauds happening in Dryden. Dryden Police report this morning that On August 28th, 2019, the Dryden Police received a report of “Distraction Theft” that occurred in the Walmart parking lot between 3:00 PM and 3:30 PM. The victim reported being approached by two individuals, one male and one female, both of Eastern Descent speaking poor English. The male engaged in a conversation with the victim while the female removed the victim’s purse from the cart. The two suspects left the area very quickly.

In the incident reported in Dryden, the male is described as being 5 feet, 10 inches tall, shaved head, with a one-to-two day stubble on his face, and of average build. The female is described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, average build, wearing grey pants and a grey shirt. The victim reported that the entire encounter happened very quickly. If you have any information with regards to these incidents, you are asked to call the Dryden Police Service or Crime Stoppers.

Thunder Bay Police in a media statement said that “The individuals of this group are believed to be from Romania and speak with an Eastern European accent. They travel through cities across the country, targeting mostly seniors before leaving to a new target city or town”.

The fraudsters typically attend big box stores like Wal-Mart and begin using a tactic known as “shoulder surfing.” A shoulder surfer strategically observes people entering their personal identification number (PIN) for their credit or debit cards.

Once a fraudster has identified the PIN of a target, they will follow their victim outside and attempt to create a distraction to steal the card for fraudulent use.

They may approach their victim and ask for directions, attempt to give them money they claim their victim dropped, or otherwise try to offer help or ask for help from their would-be victims. The style of these distractions is typically casual and not confrontational.

The Thunder Bay Police Service would like to remind the public to be extra diligent in hiding their PINs and to be aware of your surroundings when making credit or debit card purchases.

If you believe you are the target of one of these frauds, or are approached by these individuals, please call the Thunder Bay Police Service immediately at 684-