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Accused Metropass fraud artists face more charges

The TTC logo, photographed Jan. 25 2011.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Five men charged last month in an alleged Toronto Transit Metropass scam face dozens of new charges after police concluded the alleged operation was far larger than initially realized, reaching across the country.

Computer equipment belonging to one of the accused contained credit-card data from more than 30,000 people, the fraud squad said in a news release.

The alleged ringleader, Umasangar Ramasamy, is in custody, while the other four accused have secured bail.

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In October, the group was accused of using forged debit cards to purchase monthly TTC transit passes, worth about $180,000.

Dubbed Project Rocket, the investigation initially uncovered 168 phony debit cards, along with 29 TTC passes.

Since then, however, a trove of other data has been discovered, Detective Ian Nichol said.

"That card data has been tied to, at this point, over 154 point-of-sale terminals. They go right across Canada and even into the States."

Of the roughly 30,700 people whose data was stolen, about 10 per cent have sustained losses so far, comprising about $350,000, Det. Nichol said, but that 10 per cent is expected to double.

All the major banks normally cover losses incurred by fraud.

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At The Globe and Mail since 1982, in assorted manifestations, chiefly crime reporter, foreign correspondent and member of the Editorial Board, Tim is now retired. More

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