The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and our policing partners regularly receive reports of frauds pertaining to the buying and selling of goods online. The OPP has recently received reports of victims purchasing heavy machinery or farm equipment from sellers believed to be in the United States, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), received fraud reports totalling $8.9 million in victim losses related to merchandise frauds. It is estimated that only 5-10 per cent of victims report scams and frauds to the CAFC or law enforcement.
How does the scam work:
Victims conducting online searches for heavy machinery or farm equipment often locate items that are below market value or a “good deal”. The victim begins communication directly with the fraudster(s), who have stolen images and information about the equipment from other websites or platforms. Once a price is agreed upon and logistics for shipping are discussed, the fraudster requests payment in the form of a wire transfer to a financial institution located in the U.S. After receiving payment, the fraudsters cease communication with the victim, who never receives the equipment.
Be your own detective…take your time and research your purchase as it could save you time, money, and stress!
- If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it is. Fraudsters use reputable websites to post stolen images and equipment information
- If you don’t know the buyer/seller, investigate them thoroughly (i.e. internet map searches for the address, reverse image searches of the equipment, and consider contacting local heavy equipment repair companies)
- If possible, physically inspect the equipment or consider having a professional conduct the inspection
- Don’t be influenced by an extreme sense of urgency by the other party
If you fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, contact your local police service to report the crime and report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.