The Alberta RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit is warning online buy-and-sell users of a payment scam.

What’s happening is sellers using platforms such as Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace are unknowingly receiving money requests rather than money transfers. As a result, sellers are being cheated out of their money instead of receiving payment.

Scammers will show interest in a listed item on a buy-and-sell platform, contacting the seller to coordinate payment. They then ask to send an online money transfer as a deposit to hold an item. In some cases, the scammer will even explain to the seller that the payment will be coming from a special company account, laying cover for why the supposed e-transfer will be received in a different language. A money request instead of a transfer is then sent in French to the seller. The victim, unable to translate the request or decipher the scam, accepts the transaction and the funds are pulled from their account.

There has been no specific trend in the type of listings or sellers being targeted by this scam. The Alberta RCMP cautions individuals listing items online to avoid interactions with potential buyers that involve money transfers in French or languages they are unable to translate.

Online scams such as these are becoming more and more common. It is important that individuals using buy-and-sell platforms do their due diligence to ensure transactions are legitimate. We encourage Albertans to be cautious of these types of fraud trends and to question online interactions that seem out of the ordinary.