Investigators assigned to the HRP/RCMP Integrated Financial Crime Unit have charged a man following an online fraud investigation.
Between October 27, 2012 and February 6, 2013, several victims from across the country responded to an online ad offering airline points for sale. The victims contacted the seller by email and after agreeing on a purchase price, transferred funds to a Halifax man, but never received the points. At this time, seven victims have contacted police in relation to this matter.
Today at 8 a.m., investigators executed a search warrant at a residence in the 200 block of Herring Cove Road in Halifax. They seized electronic equipment and arrested a suspect without incident.
Twenty-two-year-old Jonathan David O’Brien of Halifax was held in custody and will appear in Halifax Provincial Court later today. He faces charges of fraud over $5,000 and breaching court orders. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are anticipated.
Police routinely receive complaints from citizens regarding ads on local websites. Scams includes selling counterfeit or stolen merchandise, the buyer not receiving the items or receiving a product which is of inferior value/quality or is not what it is supposed to be. As well, in some instances personal and/or financial information may be compromised, which could lead to identity theft.
To reduce your risk of becoming a victim of an online scam:
– Ensure that all transactions take place locally and in person.
– When buying or selling, meet in person to see the product and exchange money.
– Meet in well-lit public places with many people around, like a coffee shop or grocery store parking lot.
– Do not give out personal or banking information over the phone or the internet.
– Tell a friend or family member where you are going or take them along with you.
– If you own a cell phone, take it with you.
– Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
Anyone who has been a victim of such a scam is encouraged to report it to the HRP/RCMP Integrated Financial Crime Unit at 490-1985 or online at https://www.halifax.ca/police/NonDispatch/index.html