A B.C. resident has a warning for Facebook users after she was scammed out of nearly $1,800.
Over the summer, 45-year-old Lori Voss joined a Facebook group for dog owners, breeders and potential buyers called B.C. Puppies and dogs for sale/services.
She was scrolling the site, when she laid eyes on a post for two British Bulldog puppies for sale and immediately fell in love.
Voss, who is on disability, said she needs a dog to help combat depression.
She didn’t hesitate to contact the purported vendor.
Through Facebook private messaging, Voss said she and the person posing as the seller developed what she thought was a level of trust and an online friendship that included daily conversations.
Costs continue to mount for puppies
Voss said the seller, who claimed to be in the United States, requested $300 for the two puppies. She did not pay the full amount upfront, but wired $150 to Cameroon where she believed the seller’s husband was conducting research.
But the fees just kept adding up, from shipping to a feeding cost and more.
Voss then received an email claiming to be from “Delta Cargo Shipping,” notifying her that the puppies were on their way but she needed to pay for a transfer fee first.
That’s when the Surrey resident took another trip down to a Money Mart branch to transfer $1,000.
And, the requests for more money didn’t end there.
Voss then became suspicious and ended up doing an online search and finding the real Delta Cargo website (subsidiary of Delta Airlines).
“I found an 888 number,” she said. “I called that number and found out they do not have any British Bulldogs in their possession. I am thinking at this point that this is a major scam.”
Through a Global News investigation, it was determined that the man trying to get more money out of Voss is located in Cameroon.
The man, posing as a manager at “Delta Cargo Shipping,” initially said he was based at Vancouver International Airport but then admitted over the phone that he was actually in Africa.
WATCH: Lori Voss is able to confront the scammer who has been targeting her, as Global BC cameras are rolling.
Social Media Scams Rampant
Digital media experts say these types of scams are becoming all too common as comfort and trust is growing in the social media platform.
Facebook has traditionally been an avenue for connecting with family and friends, but it’s also an arena fueling a new breed of scams.
“As more and more people get online, there’s more potential targets and more potential victims. There are certain parts of the world where this has almost become a cottage industry,” said digital media expert Tristan Jutras.
With Facebook having an estimated 1.44 billion monthly active users, the potential for scams is enormous.
If just one per cent of users try to scam others, that would mean more than 14 million people are at risk of being duped.
WATCH: Digital Media expert Tristan Jutras describes how easy it is to get scammed and many of the types of scams operating on social media
Policing Issues over Social Media Scams
Unfortunately, police officers warn there is not much they can do with this type of criminal activity originating overseas.
“It’s extremely challenging. I won’t sugarcoat it at all,” said Cst. Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department. “We have individuals who are often using IP addresses that are public. They are doing it from other countries overseas. Facebook is also a U.S. company…they don’t have to abide by Canadian laws.”
A Facebook spokesperson told Global News the company will investigate this case further.
In a statement, they wrote: “These types of scams are prohibited on Facebook, and we provide information for people in our Help Centre to assist with spotting these types of scams. We encourage victims of any scam to report the incident to us so that we can take action.”
“We see it with all different social media outlets. Facebook is one of them,” said Montague.
“People have to remember individuals on Facebook are complete strangers. The site itself might be a trustworthy site. But, the people using it are often individuals looking to commit crime, looking to scam, looking to do whatever they can to make a buck and looking to victimize people.”
Voss is still trying to overcome the financial loss and the emotional distress of being targeted in a Facebook scam spanning across the globe.
“Devastated, broken… like every ounce of trust that I’ve been building up over my life is just gone. I felt lost, completely broken.”
She didn’t expect something like that to happen on a trusted social media site, but wants others to learn from her misfortune.
“I need to get this out there. I’m hoping it will help somebody else from ending up in the same position I am in right now.”
Voss said she is now using Facebook to just stay in touch with her family and friends.
“How much out there is really the truth?” she asked.