Use caution when buying and selling online

The RCMP is cautioning those interested in buying and selling from online marketplaces to use a few safety rules when conducting transactions. Access to the Internet has allowed fraudsters to reach a much wider audience than they would have dreamed possible before, to maintain contact with their victims on a continuous basis, and to change the details of their scams at a moment’s notice when they think someone is onto them.

Meeting buyers and sellers from marketplace sales

Scenario: You agree to meet up with a buyer or seller at an agreed upon place. When they show up they produce a weapon and demand the merchandise or money.

Safety tips

Fraudulent cheques

When you receive a cheque for an online transaction, don't cash it so soon.

This basic scenario has continued to evolve over time, taking on different twists, and those who use it can be quite convincing, as is evident in their ability to con their victims.


Advance fee schemes

If you offer goods or services online, you could receive fraudulent cheques, money orders or travelers’ cheques for 10X more than the item is worth. Often, the person would say they made a mistake and ask that the balance be wired back to them. What the victim doesn’t realize is that the cheque is a forgery and is worthless. The fraudster is taking advantage of the time required for processing the cheque to get away with it.

Secret shopper scam

This scam targets people who want to work from home – moms, pensioners, people with disabilities. The initial contact usually comes by way of email from a free email account with no company named, no website, and no address or phone number.

They will send you a cheque to cash or deposit into your account, tell you to keep your fee and wire the rest of the money to them via a specific financial institute or money exchange service. About four weeks later, your bank discovers the forgery and you are out of luck.

Avoid being a victim

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Learn more about online shopping fraud from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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