RCMP says ticket scams common on classified ad websites
Cpl. Yvonne Walsh is with the commercial crime section of the RCMP. She said people have to realize that scammers can be posing as legitimate vendors on reputable websites such as Kijiji. — Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram
A woman from the St. John’s area was delighted recently to find tickets online to the Aug. 12 Johnny Reid concert at Mile One.
But her excitement soon dissipated when she found out how she was supposed to obtain them.
The seller insisted that payment be sent via Western Union before the tickets were couriered via FedEx.
When this reporter contacted the ticket seller, she was told the same tickets were still available.
While the ticket seller said they were in Gander, the person on the phone insisted the tickets could not be picked up. The only way a deal could be made was through Western Union and FedEx — the same deal the seller was offering to others.
When asked about sending money through Western Union, the seller suggested the reporter pass along her address. The person then suggested a Wal-Mart store in the area that had a Western Union outlet.
When it became obvious no such transaction was forthcoming, the seller became agitated: “Thanks for wasting my time!”
A Google search found other postings warning of the same scam involving other entertainment events.
“Shame on these people ripping off innocent people for their hard-earned money,” one posting read.
“Taylor Swift tickets were what I was looking for so I could take my nine-year-old daughter who is a huge fan.”
In a recent interview, RCMP Cpl. Yvonne Walsh said, “If it looks too good to be true, then nine chances out of 10, it is.”
Walsh is with the commercial crime section. Scams targeting classified advertising sites are common, she said.
She said the fact is, some people just believe in the truthfulness of others.
“Everybody knows Kijiji. It’s a good site and people don’t stop to think that scammers are going to start targeting these sites,” she said.
If the person selling a product isn’t willing to meet to make the transaction, or won’t use a secure site such as PayPal, Walsh said, it’s a good indication that you’re dealing with a scammer.
“It’s like going to the store. When you pay for your merchandise, you walk out with it,” she said.
When only an email address is provided, she said, the scammer could be operating from nearby or in another part of the world.
Oftentimes, she said, the scammer will ask that the money be sent to a post office box address to hide their identity.
Walsh said anyone who encounters a situation where they feel a scammer is at work — or where they have already been scammed — should pass the information along to the police or to the Ontario-based Phone Busters (www.phonebusters.com).
Phone Busters works with the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP. The organization analyzes the information it receives and sends it to the appropriate policing authority.
Information on new frauds and scams can also be found on the Phone Busters website, Walsh said.