Scam medium:

  • Email and text
  • Internet


  • Individuals
  • Businesses

Scammers are constantly creating fake ads online. To reach potential victims, they use:

Items offered for sale in these scams can be almost anything, including:

A good rule of thumb: if the asking price of a product is too good to be true, it is.

Watch out for the following scams:

Pet/animal scams

Animal scams can begin as classified ads for lower priced or free animals. The majority of these feature puppies or kittens. After an exchange of messages, you are asked to send one payment after another. You are told that the money sent covers shipping, vaccinations, certificates, insurance, etc. In the end, you never receive the promised pet.

Rental scams

Fraudsters are creating classified ads for property rentals that are available in ideal locations. The ads are posted with below average prices to attract more consumers. Interested consumers will receive prompt responses with photos stolen from legitimate ads. To secure the rental, fraudsters will ask that a payment is made quickly.

Vendor fraud

If you've posted an online ad for yourself or your business, you may be contacted by a scammer. They claim to be located out of town and offer to buy the item unseen. When it comes time to pay, they use various tactics to scam you and avoid paying.

Tactic one: Spoofed payment

You receive a message or email money transfer notification that claims the payment is pending. The message says that the funds will cover the cost of the item, plus shipping. However, to release the funds, you must provide a tracking number for the shipment.

You ship the item and provide the tracking number, only to discover that the payment notification is spoofed and no payment is pending.

Tactic two: Account problems

The scammer tells you that they cannot send the payment due to a problem with your Paypal or bank account. According to the scammer, you need to pay $500 to get a business account with the selected payment provider to complete the transaction. The scammer offers to pay this fee if you reimburse them for the cost.

The scammer directs you to send the reimbursement using a money service business such as MoneyGram or Western Union. After you send the reimbursement, you discover that there is no payment pending.

Tactic three: Overpayment

You receive a payment for more than the asking price. The scammer asks you to deposit the funds and wire the excess funds immediately back to them. After sending the funds, you discover that the payment was fraudulent.

Scammers use compromised bank accounts, fraudulent cheques and stolen credit cards in overpayment scams.

Vendor fraud and QR codes

Victims selling items are being targeted by QR code fraud. Fraudsters will send a fake payment advising that the victim must scan the QR code in order to receive a payment. If the victim scans the QR code, they will be asked for their online banking information putting them at risk for identity fraud.

In another variation, fraudsters will send a QR code to the victim claiming that they are sending a payment but, in reality it is a request for a payment. When the victim enters their banking information, fraudsters will receive the payment or may gain access to the victim's bank account.

Counterfeit merchandise

Counterfeiters use websites that have the same look and feel as a legitimate manufacturer to sell products at big discounts. The products are far inferior and could pose significant health risks. For example, counterfeit jackets have been found to contain bacteria, fungus and mildew.

Red flags to watch for:

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