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8 ways to avoid getting bamboozled in online classifieds

Police warn against online purchasing scam
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Scam
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NEWS RELEASE
GUELPH POLICE SERVICE
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Consumers who are buying merchandise online, very often fall victim to fraudulent scams.  The fraudsters will use online classified sites such as Kijiji, Craigslist, and eBay, and attempt to sell fake or non-existent merchandise by making the buyer send money through e-transfers, gift cards or wire money transfers.  The fraudsters will make you believe that the items will be shipped as soon as payment is received. 

The buyer will then learn that the merchandise is fake and will not be sent.  It is difficult to be able to decipher between fraudulent sellers and authentic sellers, however, if you take a few moments to do your research it will pay off. 

Consumers who are selling merchandise online can become victims just as easily as those attempting to buy merchandise online.  Fraudsters will make you believe that the payment is pending with a false or spoofed email message from Paypal or a money transfer notification. 

The message will state that the funds will be released by a tracking number which forces the seller to ship the merchandise prior to receiving payment.  The seller will then learn that the payment is fraudulent and doesn’t exist. 

When buying or selling items online there are many things to consider to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Never make a deal outside the auction site (check website URL’s after clicking on anything to be sure you are staying on the company’s website).
  • Check any feedback or ratings on sellers as this will assist you in making an informed decision. 
  • Be cautious of sellers from overseas. 
  • It is safer to use a credit card or debit card when purchasing online as customers are generally protected and may receive a refund for fraudulent activity.
  • Often fraudulent websites will contain spelling and grammatical errors. 
  • Check the email that they are requesting you send information to as most online companies will use their own email accounts.  If a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo email are listed under their contact details, this is a red flag. 
  • Beware if the buyer is offering to buy the item without seeing it.  It is best to meet the seller or buyer in person to guarantee exchange of merchandise and funds. 
  • Never give any payment in gift cards (i.e. gift card information and pins)

If the asking price is too good to be true…..it is. 

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