Transit Police making arrests on Craigslist purchasers
By Keating Smith, Staff Writer
Transit Police in Metro Vancouver are cracking down on U-Pass fraud. Earlier this month, 25-year-old Betty Sze Yu Wong, a former UBC student was caught buying and selling multiple U-Passes off students from four different post-secondary institutions in Metro Vancouver after Transit Police honed in on several of Wong’s Craigslist postings that were either buying or selling the passes at substantial prices.
“U-Pass fraud is a serious situation in the Lower Mainland,” says Anne Drennan, spokesperson for Transit Police. “The U-Pass program was not intended for students eligible to use the program as a way to make a profit and if anyone is caught selling their pass by Transit Police, they could be charged with fraud, which is a criminal charge under the Criminal Code of Canada.”
Selling the pass is not the same as possessing or carrying a U-Pass that was not issued to a person. In this case, a person will be fined $173.00 if they cannot produce a valid student ID or proof they are a full-time student to Transit Police. The pass will also be confiscated.
Drennan also mentioned that Transit Police are conducting several other “sting-like” operations and investigations into U-Pass fraud throughout Metro Vancouver in undisclosed locations and the problem is growing on other classified websites besides Craigslist Vancouver.
“If a student is caught selling their U-Pass for profit, not only can they be charged with fraud, but that student is reported to the education institution they attend and they are essentially ‘blacklisted’ from the U-Pass program for good,” Drennan notes. ”Whether the student does or does not use the program, it will not be available to them in the future.”
A standard three-zone transit pass costs $151 per month compared to the $30 per month ($120 per semester) U-Pass fee full-time students pay. The $120 lump sum is included with tuition each semester, and opting out of the U-Pass program is not an option.
Douglas College students voted 94 per cent in favour of having the program available at the school in the Winter 2011 semester.
Transit Police say charges could be laid against students who sold their passes to Wong, who is due in court mid-December.