The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have identified an Internet fraud utilizing reputable online sites to facilitate the scam. RCMP investigators are working on a complaint originating in Okotoks, Alberta and have identified one or more victim(s) that appear to have fallen prey to this auto sales rip off.
Insp. Art Pittman of the RCMP GTA Commercial Crime Section explains, "The suspects are attempting to carry out this scheme by advertising high end vehicles for sale on reputable sites such as Kijiji at a "too good to be true" price. Once the item is purchased, the victim is convinced the online transaction will be secure because the suspects suggest they will use reliable third parties, like eBay, to complete the transaction. The victim is provided instructions from a site purporting to be the Safety Center for eBay motors. The victim is instructed to wire their payment to a designated account which is controlled by the suspects. Once this transaction is completed, the victim never receives the vehicle and cannot contact the seller."
Insp. Rick Whattam, Officer in Charge of the RCMP Toronto West Commercial Crime Section credits the cooperation of the victim and the work of the RCMP's Mass Marketing Unit in Toronto for early disruption of this scheme. The RCMP recognizes that without the quick reporting by the victim in this investigation the RCMP would not have had the opportunity to intercept payment transactions.
This investigation is ongoing, but the RCMP Commercial Crime Section recommends a few simple measures that may reduce the risk of being the victim of this type of fraud;
- Know who you are dealing with, independently confirm your seller's name, street address and telephone number.
- If the vehicle appears to be too good a deal – then it probably IS too good a deal.
- Scammers often use many excuses to justify a low price such as the vehicle was an inheritance, an emergency "sell off" to pay for medical expenses or a divorce situation.
- Never agree to wire funds to a seller – a legitimate seller will not pressure you to use a money transfer company.
- Resist pressure to "act now." If the seller wants to use a service you have not heard of, be sure to check out its reliability.
- Scammers use free e-mail addresses to hide behind such as hotmail.com / g-mail.com / google.com / yahoo.com / 8U8.com / rocketmail.com / msn.com.