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KIJIJI Scams Part Two: Red Flags and How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

2023 KIJIJI scams

Welcome to part two of our mini-series on KIJIJI scams. If you have read the first post, we suggest you check out KIJIJI Scams: What to Watch Out For in 2023. In this post, we list a series of red flags to watch out for when buying or selling on KIJIJI along with some helpful tips that could save you from getting caught up in a scam. Keep in mind that this isn't the end-all list and that scammers are getting more creative every day. Always be diligent and relentless when it comes to staying safe online. Let's get into it!

RED FLAG: Messages seem to follow a script or are not contextual to your location.

If the first message you receive says something robotic-like "Hey are you still selling a {your exact ad title}?", you may be dealing with a scammer. I suggest replying with a question yourself asking something specific that might stump the script such as "Yes it is, are you familiar with {item}?" or "Yes, are you local? What area are you reaching out from?". I have found that the reply after will be something like "What time tomorrow works for you?", a dead giveaway that you're talking to a bot. Keep in mind that many of these do get followed up by an actual human at some point but in most cases, they are not from your city, or even country, which makes it fairly easy to spot the lie.

A good tip is to ensure your KIJIJI ad has a title that includes extra phrases or words. For example, let's say you're selling a red bicycle that you bought in 2014 with new tires. You could list it with an ad title "red bicycle" or you could list it as "red bicycle - bought in 2014, has new tires".

When the bot replies, it is a lot easier to spot "Hey are you still selling a red bicycle bought in 2014, that has new tires?" versus the simplified "Hey are you still selling a red bicycle".

2023 KIJIJI Texting Scam

Nobody writes messages like this when replying to an ad. Also, they didn't reply in KIJIJI - straight to text messaging.

RED FLAG: Other party texts you direct instead of using KIJIJI's built-in messenger.

If you receive a text direct because you have your phone number listed in the ad, you may want to ask the other party to message directly in KIJIJI as well just to confirm their rating. The other party should have no issue with this so long as they have nothing to hide. In addition, if someone reaches out via KIJIJI's messenger and asks if you can email or text them because it is "easier", try to avoid it unless you've already established some trust in conversation beforehand.

RED FLAG: Other party tries to send you to a website that you've never heard of.

The only instance where the other party should be sending you links to a website is if they are a business directing you to their own site or sharing information. Phishing scams are commonplace today so be diligent in ensuring your safety. You could type the website into a search engine such as Google as well to see what comes up as many scams do get reported on a regular basis.

Kijiji scam red flag

This scammer wants to see a "recent report". For vehicles, is the go-to for reputable vehicle history.

RED FLAG: Other party demands you send funds prior to viewing the item.

I'll state it simply - NEVER send funds prior to viewing items or ensuring that you have a route for recourse. The only time I would ever consider sending a deposit would be if the other party is a registered business with a brick-and-mortar location or if you have visited them in person to verify their home address and seen the actual item prior.

RED FLAG: Other party texts you from a non-local area code.

Smart scammers will mask their phone numbers or purchase local numbers through VOIP so that they look legit. But many of them do not, and a search of the area code might quickly tip you off that the other party is a scammer.

Kijiji fake us number

This scammer text our dealer partner at Revival Powersports from an Albuquerque, New Mexico area code.

RED FLAG: Other party has an elaborate story to tell you.

When most normal people are shopping for something they want a simple transaction where they exchange goods for cash. Scammers will try to play on your heartstrings with elaborate stories in hopes that you will sympathize with them and miss out on obvious red flags. They might be retired army vets, working abroad, or had a recent death. Let the transaction be a simple exchange of goods for cash and do not get fooled by these hoaxes.

kijiji scam story

This scammer had quite the set-up. Of course when we started asking for questions, they ghosted us.

RED FLAG: Other party refuses to meet in person or in a safe location.

Many in-person scams out there will involve a third party to pick up on their behalf. This provides them with an out in the event that they are called out in person for the scam. If the party picking up is interrogated, they can simply state that they were paid to come to pick up the item and have nothing to do with the scammer.

Some sellers simply don't want strangers coming to their homes to pick items up. In these cases, be sure to set up to meet somewhere public with a lot of people. Choosing somewhere that may have cameras is an added benefit. Options include coffee shops, restaurants, and gas stations. Also, be sure to check if your city has a dedicated meeting spot for swaps as these are typically patrolled and monitored.

KIJIJI story scam

This scammer is hoping to take off with your item and some extra cash. Don't fall for these silly stories.

RED FLAG: Other party is not able to prove ownership or provide identification.

I suggest creating a receipt with both parties' names on it when you make a purchase off of KIJIJI, even if just on a piece of loose paper. Exchange identification to ensure that everything in the deal is kosher.

With large-ticket items such as vehicles, proving ownership is a must. The seller should have registration, insurance, or their bill of sale which can confirm they are the rightful owner. In addition, you should always write down the seller's driver's license or ID # to tie the sale back to them. Any honest seller will have no issue providing this information.

RED FLAG: The item for sale is dramatically underpriced.

Always inquire as to the reason an item is being sold, especially if priced dramatically under market value. Get a feel for whether the seller is being honest based on their response. Dramatically underpriced items may indicate stolen items or a flat-out scam.

RED FLAG: Other party wants to pay using an unconventional method.

Many scams out there involve payment with a fake or reversible method. Known scams involve buyers wanting to pay via money order, MoneyGram, personal cheque, or even Paypal. In these cases, push for absolute means of payment such as cash, an etransfer from a major bank, or a certified draft. In the event you receive payment via bank draft, always have it deposited and verified before releasing the item.

In the end, shopping should be fun and there are far more honest and reputable sellers on KIJIJI than there are scammers. Unfortunately, the small number of scammers make up for a large number of negative experiences. We hope that this post helps to ensure that you have an enjoyable experience as intended. We will keep this updated as more scams occur.


This article is brought to you in part by paid support from Revival Powersports.

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As always, thanks for reading! Your friend, Fred

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