The Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) has recently identified an increase in frauds involving down payments or deposits paid for items sold online.
Although this can happen in many different ways, the recent trend is in relation to a sales ad offering a vehicle at a great price. The seller requests that the interested purchaser provide a down payment or deposit to hold the vehicle. The purchaser is then provided an address to attend to so that the vehicle can be picked up, only to find that they were the victim of a fraud. In these circumstances, the fraudulent seller even provided false photos of their identification, insurance, and registration. The items were copied from a previous real ad and used to their advantage.
The MHPS would like to encourage buyers to be vigilant when online shopping and recommends the following tips:
- While we all love a good bargain, if something appears “too good to be true”, unfortunately it likely is.
- Although e-transfers are an efficient and easy way to send money, you should never send money if you do not know the person who is receiving it. Often, this money that is going to an email address that is not traceable and not returnable. The seller may be out of the country which makes any type of police investigation very difficult.
- For large purchases, such as a vehicle, be sure to meet in person to view the item before transferring any funds.
- Do your research and ask lots of questions of the seller. People legitimately selling items will have no issues answering questions.
If you have been the victim of a fraud or need assistance in relation to an incident you feel may be fraudulent, contact the MHPS non-emergency line at 403-529-8481 to speak with an officer.
Sgt. Adam Gregory
Medicine Hat Police Service
Community Support Unit