Police issue warning about uptick in merchandise fraud

Last updated on Sep 14, 23

Posted on Sep 14, 23

4 min read

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and other police departments regularly receive reports of frauds pertaining to the buying and selling of goods online. The OPP has recently received reports of victims purchasing heavy machinery or farm equipment from sellers believed to be in the United States, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

In 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), received fraud reports totalling $8.9 million in victim losses related to merchandise frauds. It is estimated that only five to ten per cent of victims report scams and frauds to the CAFC or law enforcement.

Victims conducting online searches for heavy machinery or farm equipment often locate items that are below market value or a "good deal". The victim begins communication directly with the fraudster(s), who have stolen images and information about the equipment from other websites or platforms. Once a price is agreed upon and logistics for shipping are discussed, the fraudster requests payment in the form of a wire transfer to a financial institution located in the U.S. After receiving payment, the fraudsters cease communication with the victim, who never receives the equipment, police explained in a release.

Prevention tips:

Be your own detective – take your time and research your purchase as it could save you time, money, and stress, police say:

  • If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it is. Fraudsters use reputable websites to post stolen images and equipment information.
  • If you don't know the buyer/seller, investigate them thoroughly (i.e. internet map searches for the address, reverse image searches of the equipment, and consider contacting local heavy equipment repair companies).
  • If possible, physically inspect the equipment or consider having a professional conduct the inspection.
  • Don't be influenced by an extreme sense of urgency by the other party.

To learn more about the merchandise scams and other frauds, visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

If you fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, contact your local police service to report the crime and report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.


1:36 PM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of a break-in  to a sea can and storage shed in Breslau. Sometime between 1 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. on September 2, an unknown person attended a property in the area of Woolwich and Fountain streets and forced entry to the can and the shed. Anyone with information is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers.


3:17 PM | Police responded to a report of a minor vehicle collision on King Street North in Woolwich Township. A vehicle parked on the roadside reversed to leave a parking stop, striking another vehicle that was parked behind it. There were no injuries reported and only minor damages involved.


3:30 PM | Waterloo Regional Police arrested two individuals in connection to a roadside scam in Wilmot Township after receiving a report of fraud involving a male and a female suspect in the area of Snyder’s Road East and Gingerich Road in Wilmot Township. The victim reported being flagged down by a male motorist, who indicated that he and his daughter needed money to travel to Thunder Bay for a family emergency. A female was also observed in the vehicle. The victim provided cash to the suspects. The suspects advised they would pay the victim back and requested her phone number. The suspects then drove away. The victim subsequently saw the same suspect vehicle, a black BMW, stopping another vehicle in a different area of Wilmot Township and contacted police. While conducting the arrest, police were approached by another individual who indicated they had been a victim of the same fraudsters. Police have charged a 61-year-old male and a 30-year-old female, both from Scarborough, with two counts of ‘fraud under $5,000.’ Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777.

4:05 PM | Emergency services responded to reports of a single-vehicle collision in the area of Erbs Road and Wilmot Easthope Road. A male driver was travelling north on Erbs Road when the vehicle left the roadway. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The 32-year-old Huron County man was subsequently arrested and charged ‘operation while impaired,’ ‘dangerous operation,’ ‘drive while under suspension,’ ‘possess license while prohibited’ and ‘driver fail to properly wear seatbelt.’ Anyone who witnessed the collision or with dash-camera footage is encouraged to call police at 519-570-9777, extension 8856. Anonymous information can be provided to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or www.waterloocrimestoppers.com.


12:29 PM | Police responded to a report of a single-vehicle collision on Menno Street in Breslau. An 82-year-old man was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Anyone who witnessed the collision or with dash-camera footage is asked to contact police at 519-570-9777.


3:45 AM | An unknown suspect stole licence plates from a vehicle on Burlwood Drive, Elmira address. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777. To provide anonymous information, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit online at www.waterloocrimestoppers.com


10:37 AM | Wellington County OPP responded to a reported bomb threat at a school in Fergus. It was reported that a social media post referenced a potential threat. Investigators, along with the Upper Grand District School Board officials, determined the threat of violence was false.  Any person with information regarding this incident should contact the Wellington County OPP at 1-888-310-1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit a tip on-line at www.csgw.tips. You may be eligible for a reward from Crime Stoppers of up to $2,000.

10:41 AM | Waterloo Regional Police completed a search warrant at a property in the area of Lobsinger Line and Apple Grove Road. As a result of the investigation, officers located approximately $500,000 worth of stolen trailers and construction equipment. The stolen property was recovered and returned to its owners. The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777. To provide anonymous information, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit online at www.waterloocrimestoppers.com.

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