Scams on Kijiji: How to avoid being a victim

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Without a doubt, Kijiji is one of Canada’s most popular online classified websites. From baby gear to cars, you can buy just about anything second-hand – or new – on Kijiji. With prices often being heavily discounted, it’s no surprise that many people enjoy shopping on the site. The problem is that the very features that make Kijiji user-friendly and accessible also attract fraudulent activity. Scammers prey on unsuspecting users, exploiting the trust and hopes of those looking to get a deal or selling their stuff.

Since scammers often use sophisticated tactics to create the illusion of legitimate transactions, potential buyers and sellers must be aware of the risks of Kijiji. This can include posing as fake buyers who overpay for items and then request a refund of the difference or sellers who demand upfront payments for goods that don’t. Being aware of common scams on Kijiji can help you avoid losing money.

Recognizing Common Scams

The reality is that Kijiji is full of scams. It’s crucial to be vigilant against fraud since it can cost you money and potentially your personal information. Recognizing scams on Kijiji can ensure that you don’t become a victim of fraud..

Email and Communication Scams

Email and communication fraud come in many forms, but they often share a common goal: to mislead the victim. Always be cautious of messages with generic subjects and verify the sender’s identity. You can do so by looking up the person’s name or company to see if they have an online profile. Additionally, double-check links within emails. These links could look like real links but be slightly different or they may link to phishing sites. If they’re just sending you a link with no context, it’s definitely a scam.

Overpayment and Fake Check Scams

In overpayment scams, a scam artist might send a physical or digital cheque for more than the asking price of an item. They will then ask for the difference to be returned, but once the fake cheque bounces, the seller will lose all the money. Some sellers fall for this fraud because banks make some of the funds from the cheque available to be withdrawn right away. However, once the cheque bounces, your bank will claw back the entire amount. This tactic exploits the time it takes for banks to process these fake payments. Even though it’s clearly fraud, you willingly deposited a fake cheque and sent the funds, so you won’t get it back.

e-Transfer Scams

There are a few variations to fraudsters using e-Transfers to scam victims, but they all work in the same way. Often, they’ll try to lure you in with the overpayment method as mentioned above. However, instead of using a cheque, they’ll use an e-Transfer. This works because the scammers have hijacked a legitimate account to make the transfer. Once that account has been found to be compromised, the original owner will get the money back while you’re out of yours.

Another variation is where they’re the “seller” and they ask you to send a password protected e-Transfer. They’ll claim they never got it and suggest you send another one with a different password for a small amount such as 50 cents. Many people don’t realize this second password releases the funds from the original transfer they claimed they never got. Once they have the funds, you won’t hear from them again. In addition, since you willingly sent the money, the bank won’t reimburse you.

Rental Scams

Rental scams often involve too good to be true offers, where the property does not actually exist or is not available for rent. Fraudsters prey on the fact that many people are desperate for cheap housing. The scammers will pressure you into transferring a deposit before viewing the property. Similar to the above, once they have your money, you won’t hear from them again. Checking the property in person is a must to avoid falling into these traps. In addition, you’ll want to see paperwork that proves they’re the owner.

Auto Scams

Auto scams may include offers to ship vehicles without an inspection or meeting in person. They’ll claim they can’t see the vehicle in person because they’re being relocated, but their company is handling the costs. Of course, they’ll try to bait you with the overpayment scam.

Another Kijiji auto scam is where they claim Carfax Canada is not a reliable source to check your auto’s history and ask you to go through a different site. The link they send you may look real, but it’s actually a way to get you to part with your personal information.

If you’re the one looking to buy a car off Kijiji, be aware that there can be fake vehicle history reports designed to hide problems with the auto. Insist on a proper inspection with a mechanic of your choice and check Carfax Canada on your own.

Phishing and Identity Theft

Phishing and identity theft attempts are found everywhere, including Kijiji. Scammers often try collecting personal details through fake security alerts or account problem emails. These emails may appear to come from Kijiji, but they’re clearly fake. If you’re concerned by these emails, you could contact Kijiji through one of their official channels for verification. Never use or click any links in a suspicious email.

Shipping and Delivery Scams

In Canada, scams on online marketplaces like Kijiji are on the rise, especially involving shipping and delivery. These scams can be sophisticated, so users need to recognize the common signs to avoid being a victim.

Common Signs of Shipping Fraud

Inquiries from far away: A typical sign of a shipping scam involves an interested buyer who claims they are unable to pick up the item in person due to being out of town, often requesting shipping to a distant location. It’s best to only deal with people you can meet in person.

Suspicious overpayment requests: Scammers may offer to pay more than the asking price and then request that the excess funds be sent to a so-called shipping agent or moving company. If this is ever mentioned during the negotiations, it’s 100% a scam.

Fake tracking numbers: Fraudsters might provide a fake tracking number to prove that the items you have purchased have been shipped when, in reality, nothing was sent. It’s important to verify tracking numbers with carriers like Canada Post before proceeding with any payments.

Avoiding Delivery Scams

Verify buyer information: If an interested buyer requests shipping, independently confirm their identity and be wary of those refusing to provide verifiable contact details. One way to do this is to request a selfie with a government-issued I.D.

Use secure payment methods: Never accept overpayments and use secure platforms for transactions. This can be complicated because e-Transfers are not 100% secure. If the buyer suggests Bitcoin or a wire transfer, say no, as that’s often a clear sign of fraud.

Meet in person when possible: Whenever it’s practical, arrange for a local pickup and payment in person to avoid risks associated with delivery scams. Even when meeting in person, only accept cash. An e-Transfer or cheque they provide could still be fraudulent.

Safe transaction practices

When buying or selling on Kijiji, it’s crucial to prioritize safety, especially regarding payments and meeting spots. Sticking to proven methods can reduce the chances of you becoming a victim.

Preventing fraud during payment

Payment Methods: The safest method for transactions is cash. Interac e-Transfers are also reliable if the person is sending the transfer to you when meeting in person, as it’s less likely they’re using a compromised account. A certified cheque is a reasonable solution if it’s a huge sale. However, only accept it if you go to the buyer’s bank and see them get the certified cheque from a teller. Anyone suggesting PayPal, Western Union or a wire transfer shouldn’t be taken seriously.

When making any transaction on Kijiji, be aware of the following during payments:

  • Avoid shipping for payment: For buyers, it’s recommended to be wary of sellers who insist on payment before shipping, especially if the price seems too low to be true.
  • Reversible transactions: Sellers should be cautious of overpayments. Some buyers will say the overpayment was a mistake, while others will say it was intentional. Either way, it’s likely a scam.

Conducting transactions in person

Meetup Arrangements: The best way to ensure a Kijiji transaction is done safely is by arranging face-to-face meetings for the exchange and payment. These meetups should be done in public spaces to ensure both parties’ safety. The best places to meet are public places and during the day. For example, inside a coffee shop in the afternoon instead of a parking lot when it’s dark.

Some additional things to consider include:

  • Cash transactions: Whenever possible, stick to cash transactions during these face-to-face meetings.
  • Check items and money: Buyers should check the item thoroughly before handing over any funds. As for sellers, they need to verify cash to ensure there are no counterfeit bills.

Dealing with Suspicious Ads and Sellers

Unfortunately, Kijiji is full of fake sellers and buyers who are looking to scam you. Identifying suspicious listings and scrutinizing seller communication can reduce the risk of falling prey to scams.

Identifying Suspicious Listings

When you’re looking to buy something on Kijiji, you need to look at the listing in detail. Suspicious signs may include:

  • Unrealistically low prices: If something is being sold way below market price, it’s probably a scam.
  • Hard to get item: Be suspicious of any seller on Kijiji claiming to have stock of a specific item that’s nearly impossible to find at retail stores.
  • Generic or stock images: Although real sellers may use pictures found online for their listings, it can also be a sign of fraud. Users can perform a quick image search to confirm the images’ authenticity. Alternatively, they can ask the seller for a real picture of the item beside a piece of paper that has the date and their user name.
  • Vague descriptions: A lack of details about the item being sold can be a red flag.

Red Flags in Seller Communication

When interacting with a seller, there are some clear warning signs that they are attempting to scam you, such as:

  • Urgency: They’re pushy for a quick sale.
  • Payment methods: If they offer wire transfers or prepaid gift cards, it’s a scam.
  • Personal information: Anyone asking for your detailed information should be ignored.
  • Inconsistencies: Be cautious If their reason for selling or the item’s description doesn’t match the listing.

Generally speaking, if you’re wondering if this person is trying to scam you, they probably are.

Protecting your personal information

You need to protect your personal information when using sites like Kijiji. Scammers know the Kijiji users are looking to score a deal or to make some cash, so phishing scams are common on the site.

Avoiding phishing attempts

Phishing attempts typically come in the form of deceptive emails that look legitimately from Kijiji. They’ll often try to get you to give up your login details. To guard against these fraudulent attacks, you should closely check who the emails are coming from and avoid clicking on unsolicited links. If an email asks for personal information for account verification or security checks, it’s likely a scam. That said, you could cross-reference things with Kijiji’s official guides on Fraud: Phishing Scams.

Securing your Kijiji account

Securing your Kijiji account starts with having a strong password. It should be a unique amalgamation of letters, numbers, and symbols that’s not easily guessable or replicated. Regular password changes and adding two-factor authentication give you extra layers of protection against potential scams. Also be on the lookout for text messaging scams that relate to Kijiji as those are often phishing scams.

Navigating Covid-19 Related Scams

With the rise of Covid-19, scam artists have taken the opportunity to exploit the public’s fears. Similar to other scams, they’re just using the pandemic to get you to part with your money. Recognizing these Kijiji scams and understanding how to report them can protect your health and finances.

Identifying Pandemic Exploits

Scammers have been utilizing various tactics to take advantage of the pandemic. They may offer fake vaccines or promise access to medical supplies in exchange for personal information or money. They often use email and texts to reach potential victims with offers that purport to be from Health Canada or local health authorities. The fraud can be obvious if one of the following situations happens:

  • An immediate demand for payment.
  • Misspellings or incorrect grammar in the communications.
  • Personal information is requested, such as Social Insurance Numbers or credit card details.

So, how does this relate to scams on Kijiji? Thieves will often visit online sites to find people desperately seeking certain items. In this situation, they’ll target people searching or advertising things related to Covid-19.

Reporting Health-Related Fraud

If you suspect a health-related scam, reporting it is essential for public safety. Reports should be directed to Kijiji, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and Health Canada. When reporting fraud, be sure to provide the following:

  • Details about the scam (emails, texts, or phone calls).
  • Any contact information of the scammer (email addresses, phone numbers).
  • The time and date of the incident.

By reporting these incidents, you can help authorities track and combat these exploits, enhancing the overall safety of your community. Reporting helps to alert the relevant authorities to take necessary action and better protect the public from similar scams.

Contacting Kijiji Customer Service

When dealing with potential scams on Kijiji, it is crucial to contact Kijiji Customer Service to report fraudulent activities. The customer service team can sometimes provide necessary guidance and support, but don’t expect to get any lost money back.

How to Report a Scam

To report a scam on Kijiji:

  1. Gather all relevant information about the scam, including communication records and ad details.
  2. Visit the Fraud: Phishing Scams page for instructions on how to identify suspicious emails.
  3. Email the full scam details to Kijiji’s help desk, or use the contact form available on the Contact Us section of Kijiji’s help desk.

Always keep personal contact information, such as phone numbers, private when reporting Kijiji scams.

Seeking Help and Advice

If you believe you’re a victim of fraud on Kijiji, you could do the following.

  • Contact your financial institution and let them know that you believe an e-Transfer that’s been sent to you is fraudulent. You could also have them freeze any accounts where you think your information has been compromised.
  • You could contact the police to report that you’re a victim of fraud. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to do anything, but you might be able to get an incident number, which could help for insurance purposes.
  • If you’re not sure if you’re dealing with a potential scammer, Kijiji does have a guide on suspicious emails, which could help determine the authenticity of emails received.

Legal recourse and reporting to authorities

Victims of scamming incidents on Kijiji have a few legal channels they can pursue. While going this route is the right thing to do, the reality is that if you’ve already sent money to the scammer, it’s unlikely you’ll get your funds back.

When to involve law enforcement

Victims should file a police repor if they suspect that they have been defrauded. Contact your local police department immediately upon noticing unauthorized transactions. If you’re dealing with someone who scammed you in person, provide as many details as possible.

How to report to police and financial institutions

Reporting to the police can be done at your closest police department. Do not contact the emergency line. Provide all documentation related to the scam, including communications and transaction records. If the scammers use a traceable source, such as Bitcoin, there’s a slim chance that the police may be able to recover some funds.

As for your bank. Contact them as soon as you think you’ve been a victim of fraud. They may issue you new bank details to avoid any further fraud. Remember, if you’ve accepted an overpayment and willingly sent the extra funds to the fraudster, your bank won’t reimburse you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get my money back from an e-Transfer?

Unfortunately, once an e-Transfer is accepted by a recipient, it is usually not possible to recover the funds. Banks typically treat e-Transfers like cash transactions.

What are the latest methods fraudsters use for scamming on online marketplaces?

Fraudsters frequently change their tactics. Currently, overpayment scams and payment outside of the platform, such as asking for gift cards or cryptocurrency, are common.

How can I identify a scammer among potential buyers?

A scammer might avoid meeting in person, rush the sale, or use suspicious payment methods. Having stock of something that’s sold out in stores is also a potential scam.

What steps should I take if I’ve become a victim of a scam?

You should report the incident to the police and contact your bank if any financial information was shared. Reporting the scam to Kijiji directly can help others from becoming victims of fraud.

What precautions can I implement to ensure a safe transaction?

Always meet in person, in a public place, verify the item’s condition, and ty to only accept cash as the payment method.

What are the most common types of scams encountered in online classifieds?

Common scams include non-delivery scams, fake listings, overpayment scams, and phishing attempts designed to steal personal information. Fake rentals are also very common.

What red flags should signal a rental listing might be fraudulent?

Unusually low rent prices, requests for a deposit without a signed agreement, and an inability to tour the property in person are major red flags.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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