In the last month, Halifax District RCMP have received several reports of online marketplace scams.
Several scams involved victims placing an ad online for various items (these have included clothes, electronics and instruments). The suspect poses as a buyer and asks the seller to send the items, promising that payment will follow. The seller sends the items but the payment never arrives.
On at least four occasions, victims have been defrauded after sending a deposit for a dog or puppy. In this scenario, the suspect posts an ad for the pet on an online marketplace. When the victim contacts the suspect, the suspect asks the victim to send a deposit. The victim sends the money and the suspect provides a fake address to pick up the dog. The suspect then stops communicating with the victim.
When considering making a purchase from an online marketplace, there are some things residents can do to help reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim:
- If you're looking for a pet, consider adopting one from a reputable rescue organization or contacting a registered breeder with the Canadian Kennel Club.
- If the person is selling an animal, ask for the pet's veteran clinic and call to confirm that the pet is a patient there.
- If the person is claiming to be a breeder, ask for the breeder registration information. If they won't give it, this is likely a scam. If they do give it, verify the information.
- If you are looking for a purebred, do research to get a sense of what a fair price is for the breed. Think twice if someone is selling a purebred dog at a very low price.
- Ask for the seller's phone number. Call and ask specific questions about what the person is selling. If they don't give a phone number, it could be a sign of a scam.
- Ask for multiple photos of what the person is selling. Compare them to ensure the item is the same in all photos.
Anyone can be a victim of a scam, and it's important to view all potential purchases with a critical eye. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, contact your local police.
If you encounter a scam but you have not been victimized, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.