A six-month fraud investigation by the Manitoulin OPP has resulted in 30 criminal charges being laid against an Island person.
Constable John Hill says back in March, their office received a complaint of fraudulent activity on a social media site involved in buying, selling, and swapping.
He says the complainant had paid for an item that was not delivered, and emails were going unanswered.
Hill says the subsequent investigation identified 11 victims throughout Ontario who lost between $50 to $445 between January and March 2023.
He says a 25-year-old man from Sheguiandah First Nation was arrested last week and has been charged with 12 counts each of fraud under $1,000 and making false statements, as well as six counts of trafficking in property obtained by crime.
Hill adds the man was released and is to appear in Gore Bay count in October.
Officials say frauds are always changing, but being aware of the tactics used by scammers can help people recognize the signs and take the steps needed to protect themselves.
The OPP says to protect yourself from buy and sell frauds, please consider the following:
- Examine the profile and customer reviews of the seller. Look to see how long they have been active on the platform. Fraudulent profiles are often new and have few or no reviews. They may also have very few followers and limited posts.
- Do not trust offers that seem “too good to be true.” Bargain hunters beware! People are often lured in by fraudsters offering steep discounts.
- Do not accept overpayments for items you are selling. In these cases, the scammer agrees to purchase something you are selling online. They send a cheque for more than the asking price. They ask you to deposit the cheque and then pay them back the difference. They are hoping you do this before your bank realizes the cheque from them is fake.
- Avoid paying with cash, especially a lot of cash. Use payment methods that have purchase protection such as Visa, Mastercard, or Facebook checkout.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or your nearest police authority and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at http://www.antifraudcentre.ca.