Residents losing thousands of dollars to increasing number of internet frauds, police warn
A Waterloo Regional Police car is shown in this file photo.
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Regional Police are warning residents to be aware of online scams in the area.
Police say in most cases, victims send money before receiving the item they ordered, losing thousands of dollars as a result.
Since March 17, police say they've received 113 reports of internet fraud. They received only 66 reports of fraud in the same time period in 2019, according to a news release.
ONLINE BUY AND SELL SCAMS
Police say they've received 36 complaints of buy and sell scams between Jan. 1 and July 31.
The victims lost a total of $43,715 to these scams.
Police say one buyer provided a deposit for an appliance advertised in an online sale. The victim didn't receive the item and the advertisement was removed shortly after.
GIFT CARD PURCHASES
Police describe three recent gift cards scams, where victims were sent emails from someone posing as their employer.
According to police, the victims sent gift card numbers and activation codes to the fraudsters. The victims lost a total of $2,000.
Waterloo Regional Police say fraudulent sellers will often ask for buyers to send payment electronically, sometimes asking for funds for shipping and pet insurance.
In one instance, police say a buyer responded to an ad for a kitten. The victim sent money for the deposit and was asked for more money. The person lost around $3,000 and didn't get the kitten.
Police say one victim tried to buy a vehicle though an online site.
The fraudster said they were moving away and would drop off the vehicle once they received the funds. The victim sent an e-transfer for $19,500 but the vehicle was never delivered.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING ONLINE SCAMS
Waterloo Regional Police say people should be vigilant when shopping online or responding to emails asking for money.
They say people should check the person's name in an online search, make sure the product is real, not provide any personal information, watch for urgent pleas, trust their instincts and verify the legitimacy of a seller before making a purchase.
Anyone with any doubts about an online sale, or suspect that they may be the victim of a scam, should contact police.
Officials also encourage buyers and sellers to meet in the daylight hours in a well-lit place when exchanging items or money. They also say people should bring a friend or let someone know where they're meeting.
Anyone who has fallen victim to a fraud should contact police at 519-570-9777. They can also report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.