A foul twist on a notorious scam from the chaotic streets of New Delhi has come to Toronto.
In the past week, four people have been robbed after withdrawing money from downtown bank machines by a team of thieves who furtively squirt feces on their clothing and then distract them by trying to clean up the mess. In the process, their cash disappears.
Police warned the public of the thefts Friday and released photos of four suspects.
"It's disturbing and there's obviously security and health issues and we want to identify who they are and we want to let people know this is what's happening so they can safeguard themselves," said Constable Tony Vella, who added this is the first he has heard of such a swindle.
Const. Vella said the four-member team watches people withdraw money from ABMs and then follows them to secluded areas, such as elevators, where they assume they will evade security cameras. Each scammer plays a different role: One person stealthily squirts the victim's clothing with feces, another points out the offending spot, a third tries to remove it while the fourth surreptitiously grabs their cash.
Const. Vella said the thieves make sure to soil their targets' clothes without them realizing.
"If it was overt, then their guard would be up and they would know there's an issue here. But if it's done secretively, the victim will think these four people are there to help them," he said.
The suspects are described as Hispanic. Police said they "could be in possession of squeeze bottles or containers of feces."
Lonely Planet's India guidebook warns of a similar swindle in New Delhi's hectic Connaught Place, where shoe shiners slyly squeeze feces on tourists' footwear before aggressively offering their cleaning services at an inflated price.