Scam Alert: Thunder Bay Police Warn of Online Classified Fraud

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Thunder Bay Police Service Patrol Supervisor

THUNDER BAY, ON The Thunder Bay Police Service is issuing a warning to the public regarding potential scams involving online classified platforms such as the Facebook Marketplace.

Reports of Deceptive Sellers

In recent incidents, several individuals have reported falling victim to scams where supposed sellers accept payments and subsequently delete their accounts. These scammers are suspected of falsely advertising items for sale.

Case 1: The Couch Scam

In one instance, a local Facebook user came across an advertisement for a couch. Engaging with the seller, they agreed to make a down payment via email transfer, with the remaining balance due upon pickup. After transferring the money, the buyer was provided with a local pickup address. However, upon arriving at the address, they discovered that the homeowner had no connection to the seller or the couch. It became apparent that the original ad and the seller’s Facebook account had vanished.

Case 2: The Concert Ticket Scam

A similar incident occurred when a buyer was seeking concert tickets. As in the previous case, the buyer realized they were likely being targeted by a fraudster, and once again, the original ad and the seller’s Facebook account mysteriously disappeared.

Ongoing Investigations

Both of these cases are currently under investigation by the Thunder Bay Police Service’s Fraud Unit.

Tips to Avoid Online Scams

The Thunder Bay Police Service strongly advises the public to exercise caution when making purchases through online classified services like the Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji. To avoid falling victim to scams:

  • Never provide money to a seller before meeting them in person and confirming the existence of the product they are selling.

Criminal Code Charges and Penalties

While the individuals responsible for these scams have not yet been apprehended, it’s important to understand the potential consequences of such actions under the Criminal Code of Canada:

  • Fraud Under $5,000: This charge relates to intentionally deceiving someone for financial gain, where the value involved is less than $5,000. Penalties can include imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • Fraud Over $5,000: Similar to the previous charge but involving sums over $5,000. Conviction may result in imprisonment for up to 14 years.
  • Theft: Engaging in dishonest acts to take another person’s property without their consent. Penalties depend on the severity and circumstances, ranging from summary conviction to imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Protect Yourself from Scams and Frauds

To learn more about ongoing scams and frauds, as well as how to protect yourself, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.

Keep in mind, let the buyer beware. Often these scams prey on people who are not expecting to be defrauded.

Stay vigilant, and ensure your online transactions are secure. Don’t fall victim to deceptive sellers and fraudulent schemes.

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