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KIJIJI Scams: What to Watch Out For When Buying or Selling & Red Flags to Avoid Getting Ripped Off (2024 Update)

KIJIJI Scams 2023

From auto to collectibles, KIJIJI acts as a conduit to transact in a simple to use environment. As an avid user, I love the ease it brings to both buyers and sellers. Generally, it is a secure and convenient place for buying and selling when proper steps are taken. Unfortunately, the ease of use has led to scammers on the platform attempting to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors. In this post, we review some common scams to help equip you with the knowledge needed to avoid getting ripped off.

Table of Contents:

Requesting Funds vs Sending Funds

This scam is relatively simple in nature, however it can happen so quickly that it is especially dangerous to those who have a trustworthy nature. It starts with the buyer reaching out to you seeming to be extremely interested in buying your item. They will ask if they can send money for a deposit which is usually a large portion of your asking price. They will promise to provide the rest of the cash upon pickup and ask you for your email address. They will then claim that they sent the Interac e-transfer to the email you provided. Everything sounds great, right?

Wrong. If you have auto-deposit set up, you'll be confused as to why the funds didn't automatically land in your bank account when the e-transfer was sent. The buyer will usually mirror your confusion but insist that you simply accept the transfer that was sent to your email. The caveat here is that the "transfer" which they sent to you is actually a money request in which you are actually sending them cash. This is sometimes accomplished by stating that the bank they used to send the Interac e-transfer is a French bank and that the request might arrive in French rather than English.

KIJIJI etransfer scam

Fake Payment Confirmation

This is another simple scam that has a couple of variations. The first starts with a buyer setting a time to come to pick up an item from a seller. From the onset, everything appears to be normal and the fraudulent buyer arrives at the time arranged to pick up the item from you. They will ask if they can send an Interac e-transfer to pay for it and show you that the transfer was sent on their phone from their bank account. Their hope is that you, the seller, will hastily decide to let the item go with their item trusting that the e-transfer was legitimate. If you don't allow them to leave with the item - they may become aggressive and try to push it along, suggesting that e-transfers can sometimes take hours to arrive.

The "transfer sent" screen that they showed you is fake. They never intended to send money and they hope that the recipient will let them leave with the item for free. If you as the seller do not release the item to them, they will back out citing that they do not have the time to wait for the transfer. They will make excuses about their bank, amongst other things, and ultimately never be heard from again.

The variation of this scam is a bit more complex. While the premise is similar, the fraudulent buyer in this instance comes prepared. You see, when receiving an e-transfer - you'll get an email from the official Interac account which is currently "". The buyer looking to take advantage of you will register a domain with an email that looks similar such as "intrac", "intterac", etc. The scammer would then show up to purchase in person and ask to pay via e-transfer, the exact same as before.

The major difference in this variation is that you will receive "confirmation" of the transfer from the fake email. The hope is that you don't realize the URL is slightly off. If caught, they will either act confused or aggressive and likely call the deal off. It is important to always double-check your bank account for accuracy prior to letting the item go, while also not getting aggressive with the fraudster while could escalate matters.

KIJIJI fake confirmation scam

The Delivery Scheme

The premise for this appears obvious, but unfortunately happens on a regular basis with high-ticket items. Many of these schemes start via text with an auto-responder bot trying to get someone to take the bait. Those in the know will spot the obvious bot styling with the title of your post being typed out in full. For example, you'll receive a text saying "Hi there, I am interested in your 2018 Harley Davidson Fat Bob Fully Serviced is it still available?". For the informed, this is clearly a bot reply and should be blocked immediately. Once you reply, the scammer will mention something about how they are busy and ask if they can just send full payment plus the shipping cost and have someone else pick the item up. The shipping cost may be a seemingly large amount in which they will claim they paid for "insurance" on the item. While this may seem plausible at first, it is the start of where things being to fall apart.

The scheming buyer may ask to pay via cheque, money order, Paypal, etc. Any sort of reversible or easily forged payment method could be used. In most recent cases, they will simply send you an "e-cheque" which can be deposited digitally. Banks need time to review, process and eventually bounce fake cheques that are deposited online. This gives the scammer time to work their fraudulent scheme. They will ask that you provide the extra amount paid for shipping to the delivery company or driver that they "hired". From here, one of two things will happen, both resulting in you getting duped. In high-risk engagements, the scammer will work quickly to have someone pick up both the cash and the item from you. In other instances, the buyer will simply have you pay their fake delivery company the amount for the shipping. In both cases, the fake payment inevitably bounces leaving you out the shipping cost and, in some cases, the item being sold.

KIJIJI Scam fake text

Phishing Emails from "KIJIJI" 

Phishing is a relatively common occurrence with hundreds of thousands of scam emails sent everyday, collecting passwords from unsuspecting victims. With that in mind, you should avoid clicking links if you are unsure where it leads. This scheme starts with a potential buyer reaching out either via KIJIJI messenger or text message and asking for your your personal email. They may disguise the request as wanting to receive more photos or wanting to send payment via e-transfer. Once they have an email address, the scam beings.

Knowing that you are an active KIJIJI user, they will contact you via an email that seems to be from KIJIJI that your account is compromised, expiring, needing to be updated, or something else along those lines. It will usually contain a link that leads to what would appear to be the KIJIJI login page asking for your email and password. From there, they might even send you a confirmation message thanking you for buying into their scheme. You've now given them your password which they will use to hijack other accounts that share the same email and passwords.

Credit Union Reversible Deposits

While most major banks and credit unions in Canada will protect senders by not allowing reversals on e-transfers once the deposit has been accepted, recently it has been discovered that some credit unions do give the sender a window to cancel any transfer they have sent. An article in CTV news outlined how this happened to them and the video below shows a more recent occurrence just a couple of months ago. This opens the door to scammers sending you a transfer, having it deposited, and then having it canceled shortly after they retrieve the items. It is important to understand which banks allow reversals and, if any questions, require cash only or a time buffer to ensure the funds are locked in prior to the item being picked up.

Fake Items for Sale

Over the past decade, there has been a massive influx of fake items landing in North America. In many cases, fake items may come sealed in packaging that is an exact replica of the actual product making it easy for scammers to pass off the item as legitimate. Always ensure that the item isn't a cheap copy, even if that requires you to open the packaging of a gift.

If you're buying anything automotive, ensure that the work they have done has paperwork or at the very least can be visually confirmed. There are a lot of cheap parts on sites like Amazon and Alibaba which are not nearly as valuable as their true counterparts posing a massive safety risk.

Taking it a step further, recently there have been cases where the list items are entirely nonexistent. These may be used to try and pull a deposit scam (see below) or to offer delivery with up-front payment. Many of these schemers will be extremely friendly, suggesting that they can just ship the item to you instead of you having to drive all the way to them to pick it up. For this kindness, they will generally ask for a partial payment upfront. The item will never arrive and you will never hear from them again.

Kijiji scam fake cell phone

Deposit Scams

This is a fairly well-known and easily avoidable scam. In this scheme, the seller will usually have an underpriced item for sale that generates a great deal of interest. Knowing that potential buyers will wonder why the price is low, they will likely have a sob story attached to the sale. When you reach out to buy the item, they will suggest that there is an overwhelming amount of interest in it. They use this to push you into leaving a deposit on the item as security and commitment so that they can put a hold on the item for you. After a deposit is sent, they will disappear with the cash,never to be heard from again.

Third-Party Website Scams

This scheme is currently running rampant, especially with automobile listings on KIJIJI. The scammers first reach out as potential buyers of your vehicle. They typically have a robo-script that targets every new auto listing asking if the ride is still available. Once you connect with them, a human scammer takes over. They will act very interested with plans to come soon to view it and take it away. They will ask where you live and make some small talk so as to make you feel like this is a genuine buyer. Then the scam starts.

They will then ask for a vehicle history or service report. Rather than a reputable source like CARFAX, they will ask you to provide it from a site that you have likely never heard of. This is because the website is a part of the scam. The fraudster will hope that you simply go to the site, enter the VIN and buy the report. It is usually inexpensive, so it may seem like a no-brainer when you're trying to sell your ride for thousands. This is a big mistake, and one of two things will happens from there.

First, and least malicious, your payment will be processed by a reputable processing partner and you will purchase the fake CARFAX-style report. The scammer will stop contacting you after you send them this fake report or come up with a reason to back out of the deal. They have already achieved their goal of having you spending money on the fake report.

Alternatively, and more harmful, the payment processor itself is stealing your credit card information. In these cases, you'll want to immediately cancel your credit card to protect yourself before that info is used or sold.

Here are the names of some of the scam reports that I have been asked for:

  • AMV Report

  • AV Report

  • D.T. Report

  • IR Report

  • V.H. Paperwork

  • Virtual Vehicle Report

The following are fraudulent websites that I have been asked to purchase from:

  • Bikeactualreport

  • Wheelinforeport

  • Canadavehicleinvestigation

Kijiji scam fake texting

Common Red Flags to Watch Out For

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".

Nobody talks like this when replying to ads. This also happens almost exclusively via text.

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.

This scammer is sending a link to a malicious website. Never click these links.

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.

This area code points to a location that is nowhere near where I listed my item for sale.

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.

Example email that we received:

This scammer is coming out the gate with an elaborate setup. Of course, when we start asking questions they ghost 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.

This scheme comes fully equipped with a silly story in hopes that they can steal your cash and your item.

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 Conclusion: Equipping Yourself With Knowledge

Whether you're buying or selling things on KIJIJI, we hope this post gives you some insight into some key fraudulent activities to watch out for. At the end of the day, we simply want transactions that we can trust and overall, KIJIJI does a great job at connecting buyers and sellers. While this article is written up with KIJIJI in mind, many of these tips can be applied to other transaction based websites such as Facebook marketplace or even Autotrader. We will work to update this article as we come across more schemes as we are actively using KIJIJI every day! Thanks for reading!

Your Friend, Fred

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