“Shoppers beware.” Claresholm resident Paula Berard reiterated that well-known warning after several people turned up on her doorstep this week hoping to collect purchases made on Facebook Marketplace.
It started on Monday afternoon when two different people came to her house within two hours looking for the same pavilion.
“That’s when I realized something was wrong here,” said Bérard.
Rikki Smathers was one of those people.
Thinking she had found the perfect gazebo, she contacted the seller on Facebook Messenger to ask if she could see it the next day.
“She actually asked for a deposit, and I said I didn’t really want to put a deposit down if I hadn’t seen the product or something, and she said, ‘Well, that’s me. very interested and just want to make sure i can hold it for you.
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Smathers said the person was trustworthy, so she posted bail.
The next day, she received a message that the e-transfer had been accidentally canceled.
“When I declined the e-transfer, I thought, well, I’ll just transfer the full amount,” Smathers said. “I said, ‘I sent you the full $160 and I’m on my way now. I’ll be there at two o’clock.’
“She said, ‘Okay, that sounds perfect. See you soon,” Smathers said.
When Smathers showed up at the address and spoke to Berard, she realized she had been duped.
Bérard said all the victims she spoke to had a common misunderstanding.
“You’re not going to get ripped off in Claresholm — I mean, it’s not that big, you know, so it should be safe,” Berard said.
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Smathers said this encounter made him think twice as an online buyer and seller.
“I’ll probably give up because of that.”
Smathers then posted a message on the Claresholm Buy, Sell and Trade Facebook page warning others that the profile displaying these items was a scam.
Berard moved to Claresholm in March and she is unsure how or why the scammers are using her home address for the fake transaction.
But after three incidents in just one week, she hopes her story will serve as a warning to others.
Don’t pay anything in advance, you know. Go to him first, Bérard said. “None of us can afford to waste money.”
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