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September 3, 2011
By Danette Dooley

A St. John’s woman was delighted recently to find tickets online to a local Johnny Reid concert – but her excitement turned to trepidation when the method of obtaining them seemed a little shifty.The seller insisted that payment be sent via Western Union before the tickets were couriered via FedEx, tried to entice the woman into buying them by saying her uncle was an RCMP officer and gave a badge number which, (surprise) turned out to be bogus.When this writer contacted the seller she said the tickets were still available. Although the seller said they were in Gander she insisted the tickets could not be picked up. The only way a deal could be made was through Western Union and FedEx – the same deal the seller was putting forward to others.When asked about sending money through Western Union the ticket seller suggested the writer pass along her address. The ticket seller would then suggest a Wal Mart store in the area that had a Western Union outlet.”Thanks for wasting my time!!!” the ticket seller said when it was obvious that the money wasn’t going to be sent.A google search found other postings warning of this scam.”Shame on these people ripping off innocent people for their hard earned money. Taylor Swift tickets were what I was looking for so I could take my nine-year-old daughter, who is a huge fan,” one posting read.But as RCMP Cpl. Yvonne Walsh said, “if it looks too good to be true, then nine chances out of ten it is.”Walsh is with the commercial crime section and works out of RCMP headquarters in St. John’s. Scams targeting classified advertising sites are common, she said, adding it’s sad people are still willing to believe in the truthfulness of others.”Everybody knows Kijiji. It’s a good site and people don’t stop to think that scammers are going to start targeting these sites,” she said.If the person selling a product isn’t willing to meet to make the transaction or won’t use a secure site such as PayPal, Walsh said, it’s a good indication that you’re dealing with a scammer.”It’s like going to the store. When you pay for your merchandise, you walk out with it,” she said.When only an e-mail address is provided, she said, the scammer could be operating from nearby or in another part of the world.Oftentimes, she said, the scammer will ask that the money be sent to a post office box address to hide their identity.Walsh says anyone encountering a situation they feel is a scam should pass the information along to the police or visit Phone Busters (www.phonebusters.com).Based in Ontario, Phone Busters partners with the Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP, analyzing information it receives and sending it to the appropriate policing authority.Information on new frauds and scams can also be found on the website, Walsh said.dooley@blueline.ca


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