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Dig deep when engaging with online classifieds

For Immediate Release:12-Mar-2018 @ 7:26 AM
MRU #:18R031

Victims share stories: "If it can happen to me, it can happen to you"

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We've all heard this message before. Yet, online fraud continues to grow.

A local couple (who do not wish to be identified) had been searching online for an RV for an extended period. Finally, they found the one that met all of their needs. They reached out to the seller and set up a meeting to view the vehicle.

The lady who was selling the RV was accompanied by a man to the meeting. The man answered all of the questions that the couple had. He even let them go for a test drive.

"We were so enamoured by his knowledge and helpfulness," said the wife. "I'm a naturally skeptical person but I didn't want to seem rude by asking too many questions."

The couple ended up purchasing the RV later that evening. When they realized that the vehicle had been stolen, they felt robbed of the whole situation.

"Any suspicion you have, don't worry about feeling rude. Address it," said the wife. "Dig deep, hold off, pause and listen to your hunches."

This couple was one of 32 victims in 2017 that purchased a stolen vehicle. All 32 cases combined resulted in a total loss of $129,042.00 to this mass marketing scam.

"When purchasing previously owned vehicles through an online classified ad, the onus is on the buyer," said Det. Gerard Forde with Major Crimes - Auto Theft Unit. "Buyers need to research the product. Check the VIN. Ask questions."

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Buying a Stolen Vehicle

  1. Carefully examine the public VIN plate on the dash of the vehicle
  2. Ask for proof of ownership and ID from the seller
  3. Check the VIN on the public Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) website
  4. Consider online services such as CARFAX or CARPROOF
  5. Google the VIN
  6. Have a Vehicle Information Report (VIR) done at Registries
  7. Bring a friend
  8. Question low prices
  9. Keep detailed records of the transaction
  10. Do not allow your desire to buy the vehicle override your intuition

The Online Sales Scam is just one type of mass marketing fraud. Another common example is Online Retail Scams. 

Shawna was planning her wedding, trying to find the best companies to help make her special day complete. She did her research and found the perfect caterer online. Or so she thought.

Not only did Shawna lose her deposit, she had to find a new company to cater the wedding. The couple had to cancel their honeymoon so they could use the funds to pay for the new caterer.

For additional fraud and crime prevention tips, please visit www.edmontonpolice.ca/Fraud

The EPS reminds citizens that fraud prevention is ongoing - we need to recognize it, report it and stop it.

If you are a victim of a fraud, or have knowledge of an economic crime, please contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm.


Please contact Brittany Lewchuk at (780) 668-7205 for more information.

"Dedicated to Protect, Proud to Serve"