A Marketplace fraudster has been sending victims to a couple for several months

A Marketplace fraudster has been sending victims to a couple for several months
A Marketplace fraudster has been sending victims to a couple for several months

A Lanaudière resident is at the end of her rope while a fraudster who is rampant on Marketplace has been sending victims to her home for several months.

• Read also: A Marketplace fraudster sends eight victims in two days

“I’m afraid that at some point, someone will be really angry and decide to come into our house to take revenge,” confides Nathalie Cofsky, 57, in an interview.

The Sainte-Julienne resident has been plagued by stress that has never let go since the beginning of May, when someone called her to complain that a certain Stephan Cosfky had tried to take money from her.

“He took my last name. I don’t know where he found our address, but he gives our address as the delivery address, and he says that we are his parents,” she relates, taking care to specify that she did not of son who bears this name.

“I have a cousin who is called that, but he is not a young person like you see in the driving license photo that the fraudster sends to his victims. My cousin is much older,” emphasizes the one who works in the customer service sector.

A torrent of visits

Since this first call, Nathalie Cofsky and her partner, Sylvain Lafond, have been inundated with calls, emails and visits to their home. “I received at least 4 calls, 4 people contacted me via the internet, and a good ten came directly to our house,” she says.

Two files were opened by the police in connection with this case, after multiple complaints targeting the Facebook account of the person who claims to be Stephan Cofsky – his pseudonym, on the internet, is Stephan Cofs – and other possibly fraudulent accounts which have the same modus operandi.

The scammers’ playground

Furthermore, the number of files opened by the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) in connection with complaints on the main online applications has seen a sharp increase in recent years, going from 555 in 2020 to 1,059 in 2023 (+ 90 .8%).

Fraud in online classified ads in Quebec since 2020

Number of files per year

Applications 2020 2021 2022 2023 Grand total
Facebook 312 350 409 481 1552
Kijiji 91 83 33 28 235
LesPAC 19 11 7 4 41
Marketplace 31 117 240 287 675
Messenger 102 150 171 259 682
Others 40 27 18 28 113
Grand total 595 738 878 1087 3298

Source: Sûreté du Québec

A sign that Facebook applications have become the hunting ground for small-time web crooks, this increase is entirely due to the explosion of complaints after transactions on Marketplace (+825%) and Messenger (+154%). During the same period, the number of cases opened for fraud on Kijiji, LesPacs and all other sites of this type decreased.

Better to warn…

In this context, the SQ reminds that it is important to exercise discretion when concluding transactions on Marketplace. “There are plenty of ads where it’s obvious that the item doesn’t exist. For example, we find the same photos on several sales sites,” explains a spokesperson.

To avoid falling into an ambush, it is best to always make transactions in person and never send a deposit, especially since the clearance rate for these crimes “is not very high.”

In fact, these cases are often difficult to resolve, since the bandits use calling cards and accounts with false names. So prevention is better than cure.

The most common scams on Marketplace

Scams targeting buyers

  • False ads: products at a price that is too good to be true for which the seller asks for a deposit.
  • Gift card payments: This is a difficult payment method to trace.
  • Defective products
  • Counterfeit items
  • Messages promising fabulous winnings in exchange for your personal information

Scams targeting sellers

  • Overpayment: Refuse any payment exceeding the requested amount.
  • Using stolen credit cards: Be wary of buyers who are in a hurry or offer more than the listed price.
  • Sending prepaid proof of shipping
  • Sending QR codes to steal your information

Stay vigilant

  • Do not share personal information
  • Conduct transactions in person in a public, secure location
  • Check seller or buyer profiles
  • Beware of deals that are too good to be true

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