Waterloo Regional Police Warning Residents about Various Online Buy and Sell Scams

Fraud Alert

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Waterloo Regional Police are issuing a warning after receiving several reports of ongoing scams throughout Waterloo Region.  

In most incidents, victims transferred money before receiving the desired product or item, resulting in thousands of dollars in financial loss.

Since March 17, 2020, police have received 113 reports of internet fraud. During the same period last year, police received 66 reports. 

Some of the scams involve the following:

Online Buy and Sell Scams

Between January 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, WRPS received thirty-six reports related to online buy and sell scams.

In total, victims have lost $43,715 to these scams. 

In one instance, the buyer responded to an ad posted online involving household appliances. The ad required a deposit from the buyer to hold the items. The victim sent an e-transfer as a deposit but never received the products. Shortly after, the seller removed the ad. 

Gift Card Purchase

In three recent reports of gift card scams, the victims received emails from someone they believed was their employer. In each instance, the fraudster requested them to purchase gift cards and provide the activation pins for the cards. In total, the victims reported losses of more than $2,000.

Pet Scams

In many scams involving animals, the seller requests that the buyer transfer payment electronically, and will then often ask for them to cover additional costs for things like shipping or pet insurance. 

In one case, the buyer responded to an online ad for the sale of a kitten. The victim sent a deposit and was then told to send more money to cover additional costs. The victim suffered a financial loss of approximately $3,000 and never received the kitten. 

Vehicle Scams

On one occasion, the victim reported that they attempted to purchase a vehicle through an online site. The fraudster claimed to be moving out of the province and would deliver the vehicle once funds were received. The victim sent an e-transfer of $19,500; however, the vehicle was never received.  

Waterloo Regional Police would like to remind the public to be vigilant while shopping online or responding to email requests to send money. The following are safety tips to consider when making purchases online or responding to requests for money: 

  • Check the buyer’s/seller’s name through an online search engine such as Facebook, Instagram or Google.
  • Ensure that the product is real.
  • Do NOT provide any personal information. 
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly, and watch out for urgent pleas that play on your emotions.
  • Trust your instincts. Pause and consider before forwarding any funds. Do not send a deposit or full payment without first seeing the product.
  • Be cautious of employer requests to purchase gift cards or merchandise with your own money.
  • Verify the legitimacy of the seller, or make purchases from known suppliers. 
  • When in any doubt consult police or someone you trust.

 When exchanging items, you are encouraged to

  • Meet during daylight hours, in a public space equipped with cameras (a police detachment is always an option).
  • Meet in a well-lit public location that has surveillance cameras.
  • Be wary of locations changing at the last minute.
  • Bring a friend, or let someone know when and where your meeting is taking place.
  • If anything appears suspicious, call police immediately. 

If you have been a victim of a scam and suffered a financial loss, please report the incident online on our Online Reporting page or call our non-emergency number at 519-570-9777. You can also file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501 or visit them online on the Anti-Fraud Centre website

Media Inquiries

André Johnson
Public Information Officer, Executive Branch
Waterloo Regional Police Service
519-570-9777 (WRPS) ext. 8106

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