A southern Alberta man is sending out a warning after several people showed up at his home earlier this week looking to buy the same trailer.
“We had 11 different people come to our house in Okotoks responding to the same Kijiji ad,” Okotoks resident Marty Gaffney said. “The problem is, it wasn’t our ad.”
Gaffney said several people started showing up at his home around 6 p.m. on Tuesday night after texting with a person who had posted the fake ad. Some of the victims drove from as far as Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge.
“Some left deposits, some didn’t but everyone left disappointed,” Gaffney said.
Okotoks RCMP confirmed they are investigating the incident.
“The homeowner had no knowledge of the trailer,” said Alberta RCMP Cpl. Tammy Keibel. “These folks had unfortunately been scammed through an online ad.”
Keibel said RCMP are still working to figure out exactly how much money the suspect made off with but said the victims were being asked for a $500 deposit.
“It’s always best to ask for a recent picture if you can’t see the item in person,” Keibel said. “Will (the seller) go out to the item, write your name down and take a picture of it so at least you know it’s recent?”
“To pay or put any money upfront, I would be very, very cautious.”
“What I can suggest to anyone who believes they’ve been a victim of fraud is to make sure they report it to the police,” Keibel said. “They shouldn’t feel ashamed or that this is something that could have been prevented.”
“They should report it so we can bring these people to justice and so that other people don’t fall victim as well.”
In a statement, Kijiji Canada said it takes all claims of victimization or monetary loss extremely seriously.
“We have a dedicated Community Support team that works to help ensure the safety of the Kijiji community and pays close attention to community flags/reports made against ads or other users.
“If a potential buyer is ever pressured to wire funds in advance for an item or vehicle they haven’t seen, it’s best to exercise caution and walk away.”
March marks fraud prevention month, a time when law enforcement issues a reminder to Albertans to be wary of scams that seem ‘too good to be true.’
Gaffney said he realizes online scams are nothing new but was shocked by how convinced the victims were that they were responding to a legitimate ad.
“It was a horrible feeling letting people know that there was no trailer for them, knowing more than likely they had lost their deposit.”