Fraudsters target classified ad website users
Online scamming often involves victims sending funds through Western Union money transfers
A Sudbury landlord says a close call with an online scam has left him more cautious when posting on classifieds sites like Kijiji and Craigslist.
This comes as the RCMP's Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says online scams are becoming increasingly elaborate and difficult to identify.
Just ask Denis Dormer, who discovered he was the target of a scam after posting an ad on Kijiji for a room rental two weeks ago.
"I got an email from somebody named Julie Chen," he said.
"She says she was a cook on a cruise ship. She planned on moving to Sudbury on Feb. 4 and wanted to rent the room for three months."
Dormer said the woman eventually sent him a fake PayPal email, saying his money — plus an extra moving fee — had been transfered to his account.
But then: "I got the email asking me to reimburse her through Western Union money transfer."
It was at that point Dormer realized his correspondence with Julie had been a scam.
'Doing a lot of damage'
Dormer is not the only one who was almost tricked.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says there have been more than 1,300 reported incidents of fraud in Sudbury since 2008.
"On the face of it, [there are] no great big real bells and whistles that would scream at you and say this has to be a fraud," centre spokesperson Daniel Williams said.
Williams said scammers target sites like Kijiji and Craigslist because it's a free way to contact potential victims.
Dormer said his near-scam encounter has made him more cautious.
"This is a first for me," he said. "I'll just keep my eye open. I guess due diligence is important."
Williams noted online scamming is a multi-million dollar industry that often involves victims sending funds through a Western Union money transfer. For those who've fallen for a scam, it's important to contact police immediately.
"If there's any chance to recover your money, you have to act immediately. Usually the window of opportunity of recovering money is extremely narrow."