RCMP offers tips to protect against online marketplace scams

These images provided by Facebook show smartphone screen grabs demonstrating Facebook's new 'Marketplace' section. Facebook Inc. said Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, the most popular items people currently buy and sell on the service include furniture, cars and clothes. (Facebook via AP)

The Halifax District RCMP says it has received several reports of online marketplace scams over the last month. 

According to police, the scams sometimes happen to a victim who posts an ad online; the suspect pretends to be a buyer, asks the victim to ship the item promising payment to follow, but never pays after they get the item in the mail.

The RCMP says this has happened to people selling various items, such as clothes, electronics, and instruments.

PUPPY SCAMS    

The RCMP is also issuing a warning about puppy scams.

According to the RCMP, the suspect will post an ad for a puppy online.  When the victim enquires about the dog, they are asked to pay a deposit.  Once the money has been sent, the victim is given a fake address to pick up the dog and, at that point, the suspect stops responding.

Police say they’ve seen the puppy scam on at least four occasions.

TIPS TO STOP SCAMMERS  

The RCMP has provided a list of tips they say can help you protect yourself from online marketplace scams. They are as follows:

  • If in the market 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 veterinarian 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 looking for a purebred dog, 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 price that’s too good to be true.
  • 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.

Police ask anyone who has been a victim of a scam to contact police, and anyone who encounters one but hasn’t been victimized to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.