Purchase of merchandise scams

The scam

A scammer offers something for sale online for a price that is too good to be true, or they trick you into visiting an illegitimate e-commerce website.


Here are some new words that have crept into our language:

Spam... Phishing...

Malware... "Malicious pop-up"!

And how about this one: Trojan horse...

Yes, the Internet is a beautiful thing... but it's full of weird words and devious traps

-- and you need to be aware of them, because

criminals LOVE the Internet. Here we go:

Malicious software -- scammers try to install this software on your

computer so they can get access to files with your

precious personal information. ALWAYS SAY NO.

Don't click on links or pop-ups, especially in an unsolicited, or spam, email.

Stay away... hit delete. Oh, by the way, Spam is unwanted email...

and it doesn't come in a can! Phishing -- no pole, no water, no net...

but it's all about fake, real-looking emails that appear to come from places you trust

-- like your bank. But they're not.

No REAL trusted institution will EVER ask you for personal info by email.

Don't take the bait... hit delete. On-line auctions and Internet shopping --

after you've chosen an item, scammers try to pull you outside the legitimate auction

site, then get your payment information... and disappear.

You lose your set of steak knives... and your money.

Use common sense. Good auction sites rely on trusted payment

processes. This is the ultimate case of "buyer beware"!

So.... The Internet is a wonderful thing... if you think it through and avoid fraud.

Check out The Little Black Book of Scams.

Video length: 1 minute, 58 seconds

How it works

Fraudsters can create accounts on legitimate auction sites, such as eBay, or on an online marketplace, like Kijiji. They will advertise their products at very low prices, enticing you to buy them. At the end of the day, if you do get something, it might be of poor quality or a bad imitation of what you expected.

In other instances, fraudsters will lure you into clicking on sponsored links that will direct you to a seemingly genuine website. If you decide to buy from there, you won’t benefit from any of the protections or services that legitimate websites offer.

How to spot it

If a website or offer stands out dramatically from the rest, there’s likely something off.

Protect yourself

  • Buy from companies or individuals you know by reputation or from past experience.
  • Never make a deal outside the auction site.
  • Beware of sellers from far away or those who have very few or no reviews.
  • Use a credit card when shopping online; many offer protection and may give you a refund.
  • Be wary of websites that contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • Read the refund and return policies carefully, including the fine print.
  • Ask the supplier questions and confirm service delivery timelines and the total cost.

Further reading