Fraud cases have cost victims over $1.7-million so far this year in Kingston, Ont., more than double over last year, and local car dealerships are increasingly being targeted by thieves using stolen identities.
The problem is becoming so bad, Kingston Police held an information session Wednesday, to try and help car dealerships better protect themselves.
Hosted by the Kingston Police Fraud Unit, the session aimed to educate dealerships on how to spot identity thieves online and in their stores.
“Frauds are a very prevalent crime that we investigate here and it’s growing,” says Det. Amanda Smith, “identity thefts are growing.”
According to the Fraud Squad, there are hundreds of thousands of fake and stolen identities being used for crime in Ontario.
“In Kingston alone, last year’s total for primary fraud offenses, over $880,000 was lost,” says Smith. “This year up until Nov. 1, we are already over $1.76 million.”
Car dealerships James Braden Ford and James Braden Nissan have fallen victim to identity theft used to obtain high-end vehicles, which cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Both dealerships, we’ve had a total of three incidents in the last couple of months,” says owner James Braden, “one of which we were ahead of and figured it out before they got the vehicles – to the tune of $200,000.”
“We had one get out and we caught it right after they left and figured it out ourselves.”
Braden says each vehicle involved was worth over $70,000.
Another potential fraud was caught at police headquarters, during the information session Wednesday, by an attending fraud detective.
A “red flag” was discovered with a current application to purchase a high-end vehicle from a local dealership.
Kingston Police asked Global News not disclose exactly what tipped them off.
“There is a level of sophistication that we are seeing and there is more effort being put into creating these fake identities that are going to pass credit checks,” says Smith.
Kingston Police have investigated almost 650 fraud cases so far this year and expect the numbers to surpass last year’s number — 728.