Scammer tries selling bogus boat to Mountie
A B.C. Mountie is sounding the alarm about online fraud after a scam artist tried to sell him a bogus boat.
Police say consumer greed is fueling a rising number of online frauds in B.C., with scammers trolling online sites like Craigslist and Kijiji posing as legitimate sellers.
Insp. Tim Shields said his "cop radar" about such scams was on high alert when he was looking to buy a boat online, and found a killer deal on a 2001 Malibu Wakesetter.
"I found one that looked amazing and it was an equally amazing price and I first thought ‘this price is just too good to be true.' And sure enough, it was," he said.
Shields emailed the seller back and asked if the boat was for sale, and if the amazing price was accurate.
The seller named Maria responded yes, saying: "the boat is in perfect working condition."
But Maria said she had moved to Spain, while the boat was in the Yukon in the custody of a shipping company.
Maria said the boat was ready to be delivered to its new owner but only after $13,000 was sent to her.
"Well I just thought, ‘you've got to be kidding me. How do you think I'm going to fall for this?'" he said.
Smelling a scam, Shields laid his cards on the table and told the fraudster that he was an officer of the law.
"I emailed the suspect, the fraudster, and said, 'my name's Tim Shields, I'm a police officer in the RCMP, and I know that this is a fraud.' Of course, I never got any response back," he said.
A quick Google search of the boat seller's email address -- brown43 firstname.lastname@example.org -- turns up several shady online offers for big ticket items, including a listing for her 2008 Toyota Tacoma.
It also reveals multiple warnings from other internet users to stay far away.
Shields pulled no punches in this online scam, telling the bogus boat seller: "We have had numerous complaints of fraud and theft that relate back through your IP address to you. Suffice to say, we are onto you, and we will find you."
"If I had shipped the money that would be the last that I would ever see or hear of that cash," Shields said.
But being fingered by a high-level police officer didn't drive the scammer underground. The bogus boat seller is still in business online and has more listings for boats.
Shields said many consumers are blinded to the danger of online fraud on sites like Craigslist because the price just seems too good to resist.
"There have been many, many very hard lessons learned through the use of the internet, because the internet is rife with fraudsters and scammers who are looking for easy victims," he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele