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Buy, swap, sell fraud on social media leads to charges for Manitoulin suspect

A Manitoulin Island suspect is facing more than 30 fraud-related charges following a six-month investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.

Police received a complaint March 10 about fraud related to items being sold on social media group involved in “buying, selling and swapping,” police said in a news release Friday.

“The complainant had paid for an item that was not delivered, and emails were going unanswered.”

A total of 11 victims were identified, living in southern, northeastern and northwestern Ontario. Each lost between $50 and $445 between January and March.

A 25-year-old from Sheguindah First Nation is charged with 12 counts of fraud under $5,000, 12 counts of making a false statement in writing with the payment of money and six counts of trafficking in property obtained by crime.

The accused was released and is scheduled to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Gore Bay on Oct. 11.

"Frauds are always changing, but being aware of the tactics used by scammers can help people recognize the signs and take the steps needed to protect themselves," OPP community safety officer John Hill said in the release.

To protect yourself from buy and sell frauds, police said the public should consider the following:

-- Examine the profile and customer reviews of the seller. Look to see how long they have been active on the platform. Fraudulent profiles are often new and have few or no reviews. They may also have very few followers and limited posts.

-- Do not trust offers that seem too good to be true. Bargain hunters beware! People are often lured in by fraudsters offering steep discounts.

-- Do not accept overpayments for items you are selling. In these cases, the scammer agrees to purchase something you are selling online. They send a cheque for more than the asking price. They ask you to deposit the cheque and then pay them back the difference. They are hoping you do this before your bank realizes the cheque from them is fake.

-- Avoid paying with cash, especially a lot of cash. Use payment methods that have purchase protection such as Visa, MasterCard, or Facebook checkout.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or your nearest police authority and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or file a report online.

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