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Private Investigator Tip: How To Avoid Online Scams

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Within the last year, we have had several calls about individuals who have purchased items from Kijiji/Craigslist and other online classified ads where they buy items such as electronics and vehicles as well as game, theatre, and concert tickets. What do all of these people have in common? They all purchased items online and were scammed. Unfortunately, this is happening all too often.

If you are looking to purchase items online and you are spending a significant amount of money, you should ensure you have the information to protect yourself.

How to protect yourself when buying items online:

Buying a Vehicle Online

If you are looking to buy a vehicle online and you want to ensure it does not have a lien, and you want further information on the vehicle, you can purchase a “used vehicle information package (UVIP)” for $20.00 from Service Ontario. What comes with a UVIP? The vehicles information including the legal year, make, model, colour, and engine size. It also gives you a history of the vehicle, how many owners, and their city of residence as well as how many kilometers it had from each owner. Most importantly, it gives you lien information as well as fair market value.

Has the vehicle been in an accident?

You can purchase a Carproof vehicle history report from the current owner before you purchase the vehicle to ensure it has not been in any accident. If it has, you can get the proper information about the type of accident and claim. Carproofs range from $35.00-$80.00 depending on how much information you want.

We suggest you purchase one of both of the above mentioned, so you do not have surprises after you take the vehicle to be licensed.

Buying Tickets Online

The easiest way to purchase tickets for any event online is to purchase them legitimately from Ticketmaster, StubHub, etc. There are so many scams with scalped tickets and it’s increasingly difficult to spot a fake ticket. The safest way to purchase is legitimately. Sometimes the fee you pay for the service is worth the money.

Buying Electronics Online

With cell phone manufacturers coming out with new phones yearly, there is always an influx of individuals selling their old cellular devices online. When you are purchasing a phone or other electronic device from someone, ensure that it works properly and take your time to understand the product.

How can I tell if the person I am speaking with is legitimate or not?

As there are a growing number of “text me” apps and other free apps that issue you a phone number for free, an online predator can get a new phone number every day and never have it linked back to them.

One of the best apps to determine a phone number is called “True Caller.” The app gives you information on a phone number such as whether it is a registered number with a phone provider such as Rogers, Bell, Telus, Fido, etc. If the number shows registered to a legitimate provider, then you can sometimes eliminate a predator as most predators use online text app numbers that show registered to “Distributel” or other online communication companies. If the number you search shows registered to Distributel or others, then you should be more aware while dealing with the seller. When you meet with the seller get a license plate number and description of the person. If you are buying a vehicle from them, ask to see their driver’s license and write the license number on a bill of sale. The more information you have on the seller, the easier it will be for us to locate them later if they turn out to be a fraudster.

When purchasing any items online for safety and security, you can always attend a local police station to complete the transaction. If the seller will not meet you at a police station, it is likely they are fraudulent and do not want to be exposed. A legitimate buyer or seller would have no issue meeting at a police station.

If you have already purchased an item online and feel you were scammed, you can call our private investigators anytime for a free consultation to discuss your options.

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