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Alberta woman warns others after being scammed online over $1,500 Christmas tree

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Alberta woman warns others after being scammed online over $1,500 Christmas tree
A senior in Spruce Grove is the latest to fall victim to an online scam involving an expensive, adjustable Christmas tree. Lisa MacGregor has more on what to look for to avoid falling victim yourself. – Dec 5, 2023

Scams are on the rise this holiday season and a senior in the Edmonton area is the latest to fall victim to one.

Spruce Grove resident Suzanne Kyle is out $1,500 after buying what she thought was the perfect Christmas tree.

Adjustabletrees.com is the website that allegedly scammed Kyle. It’s also the first site that comes up on Google’s search engine when she searched “adjustable trees” and has all the official logos for security checks, so it looks legit — even according to Alberta RCMP.

Kyle had been looking for a very specific tree that was sold out everywhere in Alberta.

“Twelve foot, radiant lit, micro LED artificial Christmas tree — $950 US,” Kyle said as she read the posting listed on the website.

“It’s easier on arthritic hands, you don’t have to fluff them and you have the lights already on them.”

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Spruce Grove, Alta. resident Suzanne Kyle lost $1,500 after buying what she thought was the perfect Christmas tree from Adjustabletrees.com. Global News

Kyle paid $1,500 CAD for the artificial pine on her debit card — the only payment option offered on the website. Both Kyle and RCMP said that was her first mistake.

“I chose Interac (e-Transfer) because all the others were kind of U.S.-based ones but not before I did some more research,” Kyle said.

A week went by with no follow up on the hefty festive purchase, so she started digging deeper. After a few internet searches, Kyle realized she had been scammed —and she wasn’t alone.

There were postings online about the fraudulent website.

“It (online post) came back scam and there was a fellow who posted there already, from back in July and he told his story.”

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Cpl. Sean Milne, from RCMP’s Edmonton federal serious & organized crime unit, said judging from the website’s look, this type of fraud can happen to anyone.

“With a website of this design, it would be quite reasonable for anyone to fall victim to it unfortunately,” Cpl. Milne, said.

RCMP said scammers are also capitalizing on people urgently shopping online this holiday season.

“There’s definitely pressure situations involved in holiday shopping — whether it’s that need to get an item or you’re running late on your shopping, so there’s a bit of a time crunch,” Milne said.

There’s two main things to do or look for to protect yourself online, according to officials.

“Universal red flag is that none of the payment methods they accepted involved any sort of background checks in the process,” Milne said.

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“The easiest thing to do is to Google the name of whatever it is you’re looking at and then add the word ‘scam,’ because you’re not the first person that’s encountered this.”

Spruce Grove, Alta. resident Suzanne Kyle lost $1,500 after buying what she thought was the perfect Christmas tree from Adjustabletrees.com. Global News

Suzanne Kyle likely won’t be the last person scammed from the adjustable trees website, since it’s still active online. She is disappointed this all happened, but wants her story to help others.

Kyle’s advice is to take a breath before making a big purchase.

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