By Paula Last
Students are a prime market for counterfeit TTC metropasses and tokens.
“We know that stations and routes near colleges and universities tend to be hot spots,” said TTC Investigative Services Staff Sgt. Mark Russell.
Russell said that students should be on guard if they want to buy metropasses from other students or online.
“Their spidey-senses need to be tingling if somebody’s offering them a deal that seems too good to be true,” Russell said.
A quick search on Craigslist brings up many offers of TTC metropasses for sale, cheap.
“There’s nothing illegal or that violates the bylaw for somebody to sell a legitimate pass however they want,” Russell said. “And for however much they want.”
Common sense should tell you whether an offer is too good to be true. Before handing over your money, Russell suggests testing the merchandise by swiping the pass in a TTC turnstile.
“Counterfeiters have never been able to replicate is the magnetic strip on the back of the pass,” said the TTC Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brad Ross.
“People will line up to flash their pass at a collector booth rather than swiping it through the turnstile,” Ross said.
It’s a dead giveaway.
Ross said that it’s not just metropasses that are a problem.
“We lose annually about a million and a half to two million dollars on counterfeit tokens,” Ross said.
Once a token lands in a fare box, they can’t be removed. So TTC operators can’t spot the fakes as easily.
To avoid buying a bum token, buy direct from the TTC, or from authorized dealers who post a sticker in their window. These dealers get a commission for selling TTC fare media.
Using authorized dealers isn’t the only way the TTC prevents fraud. Other recent measures are bimetal tokens and metropass holograms.
“There are other security features on the pass that we don’t talk about, but that obvious to those who know what to look for,” Ross said.
The ‘people who know’ are subway station collectors, bus and streetcar drivers, and transit enforcement officers.
Getting caught when using a fake metropass will cost you.
Offenders will be issued a by-law ticket and fined anywhere from $200-$400.
While there are usually no criminal charges, fraud charges can be laid depending on the circumstances.
“If somebody’s offering a metropass for a discount rate, be very, very suspicious and only buy your fare from the TTC, or from an authorized dealer,” Ross said