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Ontario Resident Loses $12,000 in Online Smartphone Sale Scam
MAY 24, 2023  (8:40)

Ontario Resident Loses $12,000 in Online Smartphone Sale Scam

A woman from Scarborough, Ontario, fell victim to an online scam that cost her $12,000 when she tried to sell a Google Pixel 7 smartphone through the classified website Kijiji.

Victoria Garcia-Gomez was unfamiliar with Kijiji, as it was her first time using the platform to sell a device.

Upon listing the smartphone for $600, Garcia-Gomez was contacted by an interested buyer.

"The person said, I can send you the cash, and then you can send the phone to me,' and I'm like ok," recalled Garcia-Gomez.

The buyer informed her that Kijiji would send her an email to facilitate the transaction. Garcia-Gomez did receive an email, which appeared to be a legitimate message from Kijiji.

She was then instructed to input her bank account information into a provided link and return it. Soon after doing so, Garcia-Gomez was contacted by her bank, the Bank of Montreal (BMO), informing her that her accounts were being emptied.

"I was shocked. I checked my account, and there was a large amount of money that was taken from my chequing account, and I'm like, 'Ok, let me check my other account,' and it was depleting, depleting, depleting," explained Garcia-Gomez.

In total, $12,000 was drained from her chequing account and line of credit.

Kijiji stated to CTV News Toronto that it does not offer third-party payment or delivery services and advises users against clicking on external links when interacting with other users on the platform. The classified website confirmed that the fraudulent activity happened outside the Kijiji ecosystem, and the phishing link has been permanently blocked.

Kijiji encourages users to keep their conversations within the platform and to be cautious when sharing personal information, such as phone numbers. The company also advises fraud or monetary loss victims to file reports with their local police department and the Kijiji Community Support team.

Francis Syms, Associate Dean and cybersecurity professor at Humber College warned against clicking links and entering personal information unless the source is known and trusted.

He recommends verifying a company's reputation before clicking on payment links and using resources like Google to confirm their legitimacy.

BMO investigated Garcia-Gomez's case and acknowledged the importance of account protection as a collaboration between customers and their banks. The bank emphasized the need for customers to safeguard their account information, PINs, and online banking passwords.

After reevaluating Garcia-Gomez's situation, BMO agreed to refund the $12,000 scammed from her accounts.

"They will refund the $12,000 to my account, and they apologized for the confusion," said Garcia-Gomez. "This takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders."

Source: CTV News