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RCMP to online sellers: beware of phony purchases

March is Fraud Prevention Month, and NWT RCMP are reminding residents to remain vigilant against online scams in light of a spike in "attempted mass marketing frauds over online classified ads" in the territory.

Residents who sell merchandise online are particularly vulnerable to fraud, according to a news release which offers tips to avoid being victimized.

Online sellers should be wary of potential out-of-town buyers who offer to purchase items without seeing them first. In a particular type of online "spoof" scammers will send sellers a phony PayPal email message or a notification of a money transfer, which falsely tells the seller the payment is pending – but no funds are available.

RCMP offer the following tips to prevent online fraud:

  • Be cautious of "recovery scams." "Always do your due diligence and never send money to recover money."
  • Be proactive. Educate yourself, family, friends and co-workers about the dangers of mass marketing frauds.

If you do fall victim to an online scam, collect all information related to the fraud, including emails, text messages and receipts, police advise. Immediately report the fraud to your local RCMP detachment, or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1‐888‐495‐8501.

Less than five per cent of mass marketing fraud is reported, according to the CAFC.