With the growing popularity of online shopping comes the rising rate of online purchase scams. Online purchase scams typically involve counterfeit merchandise, fake websites, and stolen items or property. A popular site for online purchase scam is Craigslist or sites like Craigslist that have a dedicated ‘for-sale’ section. Selling fake or fraudulently purchased concert tickets on Craigslist is a common type of scam. For cases such as this, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) recommends either purchasing the tickets through a reputable vendor or meeting the online seller at the event to have the tickets scanned at the door to determine the legitimacy of the tickets.
Another common form of online purchase scam is through auction sites where individuals can buy new or used items by bidding. Online auction scams include the misrepresentation of item(s), non-delivery of good(s), and/or non-payment for the product(s) delivered. Online auctions can also be manipulated by scammers. If you are the seller, scammers can, for instance, enter a low bid and quickly followed by a high bid under different names. However, when the auction is about to close, the scammer will withdraw the highest bid so that the low bid will win. On the other hand, if you are the buyer, the scammer can elevate the prices by using dummy bidders. In the end, you will be paying significantly more than the product’s value. It is important, the, to be cautious when the payment is in the form of cheques in order to avoid other forms of scams related to cheque payment, such as cheque overpayment scams.
Victims of online purchase scams may not only lose their money but more importantly, can also have their identity stolen if he or she is shopping on a shady site that requires credit information. Having identity stolen can be an even bigger problem than having money scammed as that can affect one’s credit ratings and how one’s personal information is being used. One of VPD’s tips to preventing this type of online purchase scam is to look at the aesthetic of the site, whether the website looks professional and has well-designed graphics, slogans, and logos. Individuals should try to only purchase from online sites that they trust. If uncertain or suspicious of the site, he or she should always do a business check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). As a scam prevention technique, VPD suggest individuals use third party payment portals or other secure website payment options such as Paypal. These tips can reduce the chances of you falling for an online purchase scam and then also becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft.
For more information on online purchase scams and the different forms of financial crime, you can visit http://vancouver.ca/police/organization/investigation/investigative-support-services/general-investigation/financial-crime.html