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Saanich woman fleeced, threatened in double scam – puppies and gift cards

Check gift cards for tampering when out buying, warn police
Instead of getting a Maltese puppy through an online sale, a Saanich woman was scammed thousands of dollars and threatened. Photo: Noelle on Unsplash

All she wanted for Christmas was a Maltese puppy.

Instead, one Saanich woman is out thousands of dollars after a double duping.

Saanich police say a resident responded to a Facebook Marketplace ad for a Maltese puppy on Dec. 4. The seller told her they were from the U.S. and directed her to a website – now removed – showcasing the dogs for sale. Once the potential puppy owner sent money, the scammers sought more for fees such as shots, licensing, registration and more.

The seller then began demanding and threatening more money or else the welfare of the puppy would be put at risk, police said in a news release.

The company she was doing money transfers through flagged it as potential fraud, so the scammer told her to buy and send pre-paid Visa gift cards.

“These scammers often resort to threats to defraud their victims of as much of their money as possible,” public relations officer Const. Markus Anastasiades said.

READ ALSO: Chilliwack grandma loses all her Christmas money in crypto scam

The scam victim bought 15 gift cards that had been tampered with in the store to contain fake cards with altered barcodes. When the cards were loaded by the teller in the store, the money went directly to a scammer.

“We have recently started to see these altered gift cards being reported to police, which demonstrates the level at which these criminals will go to defraud the general public,” Anastasiades said.

Saanich police recommend people looking to purchase a pet try to do so locally from a reputable breeder that they can visit in person. As a general rule of thumb, any type of threat issued by a seller should be a warning sign.

READ ALSO: Gift card scam catching B.C. holiday shoppers off guard

The Better Business Bureau recently issued a warning to shoppers about the barcode scam. The scam, which is circulating the country, sees scammers place a barcode sticker on top of the original gift card barcode so when a customer buys the gift card, they are actually loading a completely separate gift card that the scammer possesses. Saanich police recommend shoppers buying gift cards have a good look at barcodes to determine if they have been tampered with. In this case, the actual card was replaced with a blank card with a barcode sticker.


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