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Fraud may kill adult tickets

(Posted Date: Thursday, June 19, 2008)

By Claudia Cautillo

The arrest of a TTC ticket collector earlier this month may lead to the end of the sale of adult tickets.

Nafisa Zahur, 31, was arrested for allegedly selling fake TTC adult tickets from a booth inside Wilson station and has been charged with theft over $5,000, possession of instruments of forgery, breach of trust and possession of property obtained by crime.

Police are now investigating how a TTC employee could have carried out the operation of manufacturing and selling the tickets.

“We are alleging that she’s involved in the production,” Detective Constable Chris Devereux said, adding the fake tickets she possessed looked as if they’d been done with a basic home-printing system.

When arrested on Jun. 10, Zahur had about 300 forged tickets on her, Devereux said.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said Zahur allegedly sold the counterfeit tickets to a customer at Ossington station on Jun. 9 and at Wilson station on Jun. 10, telling both commuters they didn’t need to pay the fare.

They both sensed something wasn’t right about the tickets, and reported them to TTC collectors who could tell they were fake and confirmed their suspicions Devereux said the copied tickets Zahur possessed were traced back to legitimate ones that came out at the beginning of June, so they couldn’t have been reproduced before then.

There was no evidence that the ticket collector, a TTC employee for two years, had been in possession of forged tickets prior to that, he added.

“It’s a very rare instance and we find it very bold that she was doing it that way,” Devereux said of the how the tickets were sold from company booths, adding police believed she wasn’t alone in the operation although they haven’t identified any other suspects.

Ross said since the new tickets were introduced in November 2007, counterfeits have gone up significantly, costing the TTC between $300,000 and $400,000 in lost revenue every month.

“We need to put an end to that,” he said. “If we don’t, by the end of this year we’re looking at a $5 million revenue loss.

“(Counterfeits) are so good that it’s difficult to distinguish with the naked eye unless you know what you’re looking for,” he added.

The TTC has recommended the elimination of the sale of adult tickets phased in starting as early as the end of this month.

“The vast majority of our counterfeiting and fraud occurs with adult tickets,” Ross said. “This will eliminate counterfeiters of adult tickets, so that revenue loss will be eliminated.”

If the proposal is approved, by the end of June adult tickets will no longer be sold at ticket agents off of TTC property, such as at gas stations or convenience stores.

Tickets would stop being sold all together around the beginning of September.

Other classes of ticket would continue to be sold.