“Buyer beware.” Claresholm resident Paula Berard reinforced that well-known warning after multiple people showed up on her doorstep this week hoping to pick up purchases made on Facebook Marketplace.
It started Monday afternoon when two separate people came to her house within two hours looking for the same gazebo.
“That’s when I realized something was a little off here,” said Berard
Rikki Smathers was one of those people.
She thought she’d found the perfect gazebo and contacted the seller over Facebook messenger asking if she could see it the next day.
“She actually asked for a deposit, and I said I’m not really into doing a deposit if I haven’t seen the product or anything like that, and she said, ‘Well, I have a lot of interest in it, and I just want to make sure I can hold it for you.’”
Smathers said the person seemed trustworthy, so she sent the deposit.
The next day, she received a message that the etransfer had been cancelled by mistake.
“When I resent the etransfer, I was like, well, I’m just going to send the full amount,” said Smathers. “I said, ‘I sent you the full $160 and I’m on my way right now. I’ll be there at two o’clock.’”
“She said, ‘Okay, sounds perfect. We’ll see you soon,’” said Smathers.
Once Smathers showed up at the address and spoke with Berard, she realized she’d been duped.
Berard said all the victims she has talked to had one common misconception.
“You’re not going to be scammed in Claresholm — I mean, it’s not that big of a place, ya know, so it should be safe,” said Berard.
Smathers said as both an online buyer and seller, this encounter has made her think twice.
“I probably am going to back off of it for sure because of this.”
Smathers later made a post on the Claresholm Buy, Sell and Trade Facebook page warning others that the profile posting these items is a scam.
Berard moved to Claresholm in March, and she doesn’t know 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 serves as a warning to others.
Don’t prepay for anything, ya know. Go look at it first,” said Berard. “None of us can afford to throw money away.”
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