Kijiji Canada says a Nova Scotia woman currently banned from buying and selling dogs is tricking others users of the site into selling cats, despite exhaustive efforts to ban her.
Gail Benoit, a dog sitter, was first banned from the online classified ad service a few years ago after Kijiji said it received hundreds of complaints about her.
"We've blocked a number of ads and a number of accounts and had several conversations with her indicating we didn't want her on Kijiji," said Shawn McIntyre of Kijiji Canada. "We've received hundreds of reports of bad behavior from this person, as well as a number of incidents that have occurred based on ads that were posted on Kijiji."
McIntyre said Kijiji has received complaints of sick pets being sold, and misrepresentation of the animals advertised for sale.
McIntyre said Benoit has gone to remarkable lengths to get around the ban, including posting from various computers. He said she’s even duped strangers into helping her.
"Legitimate users who have a good history of Kijiji, who don't know better, are being contacted via their telephone number, for example, that they post in an ad, and Gail is asking them in a very friendly way to post ads for her because she's not good with the internet or she makes up another story."
Separate case in court
Benoit is currently undergoing court proceedings after she was accused of stealing and selling two dogs from New Brunswick. She’s been charged with fraud, theft and identity fraud in that case.
Her bail conditions include a ban on buying and selling dogs.
In January 2009, Benoit was found guilty of two counts of animal cruelty for selling sick and malnourished dogs.
Kijiji’s policy includes a ban on the brokering of animals. Last week, the company pulled an ad for a Maine Coon cat that McIntyre believes was posted by Benoit.
"We really can't be 100 per cent sure," he said. "In this case, we took these ads down as a precaution, and notified the user to contact us so we can clear things up. And they have not reached out to us, so we can only assume that our assumptions are correct at this point."
He said the volume of Benoit's ads and her persistence is unique in Canada, and a concern for Kijiji.
"We've been receiving reports of animals that weren't healthy, or exchanges in parking lots, for example."
Benoit is scheduled to appear in provincial court this week to fight the conditions that prevent her from buying and selling dogs. The judge said at an earlier court appearance that the burden will be on the prosecution to argue while the ban should continue.
Calls to Gail Benoit from the CBC were not returned Tuesday.