Valuable lessons learned through Internet scam

Resident provides advice for those making a transaction over the Internet

Recently I was scammed on the Internet during the sale of my motorcycle (1956 Harley Davidson). I had placed an ad on the Kijiji website offering my bike for sale. Within 12 hours, I received a text message on my cellphone from a person who really wanted to buy the bike and offered me $700 above the asking price.

I tried to contact this person by cellphone but could not get through. I did receive an email message from that person asking me to take the bike off the Kijiji website and informing me that he had remitted the total sales amount via PayPal. In that same message he informed me that he was not able to pick up the bike, but that a shipping agent would do this.

As he was very occupied, he asked me if I could advance $600 to the shipping agent via Western Union and he would add this amount plus some extra funds via PayPal. He advised me to check my emails to see the PayPal message. Shortly after his message I did receive a PayPal message complete with the instructions on where the $600 had to be sent. The total amount included the $700 over payment for the bike plus $750 for the Western Union transfer plus extra money for me helping him out. Also mentioned on this page was that the transaction was pending until the money had been transferred to the shipping agent and therefore did not show up on my PayPal account. A transaction conformation number was also mentioned. Note: This PayPal page was very cleverly constructed by copying the PayPal logo and the way the text was set up.

I made the $600 transfer via Western Union and informed the buyer accordingly via email. I received an email back with the request to transfer another $700 to the shipping agent as the initial quote for shipping the bike was in error. He assured me that he again would compensate me for me helping him out for which he was very grateful. Again, I did receive a PayPal message and again with instructions as to whom the money had to be sent, the $700 plus another $150 for me helping out, and again with a pending statement on it as well as a transaction confirmation number. I did make the $700 Western Union transfer and informed him via email.

He then sent me an email back asking for a transfer of $950 via Western Union as the shipping agent needed this money to pay for insurance of the bike and Customs and Excise tax. As the bike had to go to Ontario, it did not make sense and I got the ugly feeling that I had been scammed. I called PayPal and they asked me the web page address that had been used for the transaction. They confirmed that this was not their web page. They also confirmed that the transaction numbers used were fakes. I was scammed!

I informed the RCMP here in Penticton and they told me that there was very little they could do as an email name and email address are easily invented and discarded. They did give me a Government of Canada email address to report this scam (info@antifraudcentre.ca).

Lessons learned, and everybody doing transaction via the Internet is strongly advised to follow the following advice:

If something seems to be too good to be true, it most likely is the case (for me this was the offer of $700 above the asking price).

Check the validity of the web page in which a financial transaction is presented. Contact the institution, in my case PayPal, for confirmation and discuss the contents of the web page you received.

Never, never make a payment on behalf of somebody else to help them out, whatever their circumstances.

Consider a certified cheque as payment by the buyer, and only when the cheque has been accepted by the bank and the money has been deposited into your account should the product be released to the buyer.

Report a fraud/scam.

As the RCMP officer told me, it is always very clear when thinking back, and that’s the 20/20 hindsight. It will not happen to me again and I hope that my story will serve other people well, so you will not be scammed.

Loek van der Klugt

 

Heritage Hills