Vancouver police have uncovered a new twist on identity theft that involves redeeming victims’ loyalty reward points.
Alleged ringleaders Daniel Adam Suchecki, 34, and Christa Dawn Hucal, 25, have been charged with a slew of counts after a joint investigation led police to their Surrey apartment.
Inside, officers found about 200 credit cards and IDs in various names, stolen mail, a credit card writer, and $20,000 in gift cards.
Sgt. Randy Fincham said the bulk of the gift cards were obtained by redeeming Royal Bank of Canada Visa points, a scam he warned is easy to overlook.
“It wasn’t until people started looking into their RBC rewards accounts or statements that they began to notice that these points were severely diminished,” Fincham said.
Other loyalty point programs were abused as well, he added.
Gift cards were sold online or used to keep the operation running. In all, tens of thousands of dollars were siphoned from more than 100 victims across Canada.
In a statement to CTV News, RBC promised it would reimburse any rewards points stolen from its customers and is reviewing security surrounding point redemptions.
Investigators believe the suspects obtained information about at least some of the victims using mail thefts then used it to redeem their points.
Five vehicles were also recovered, including three that were stolen: a 2010 BMW 323i, a 2011 Ford Escape and a 2007 Honda Motorcycle.
The other vehicles were a $51,000 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO purchased using a stolen identity and a fraudulently-rented 2011 Jeep Cherokee, which was found carrying a credit card manufacturing machine, fraudulent Best Buy and Future Shop gift cards, and stolen mail.
Hucal and Suchecki, who has an extensive history of fraud, were both arrested.
They face a long list of counts including trafficking in property obtained by crime over $5,000, identity theft, unauthorized use of credit card ata, use of forged documents, breach of probation, and others.
Sucheki, who was recently paroled, is charged with 149 counts alone. Hucal is charged with 58 counts.