The HRP/RCMP Integrated Financial Crime Unit has arrested eight suspects after a three year fraud investigation that spanned from coast-to-coast.
In 2011, investigators began to investigate several frauds dealing with online classified ads. Victims responded to several ads selling sports or concert tickets and puppies. Once a price was agreed upon, the buyer would electronically transfer money to the seller but never received the goods. In the course of the investigation, in excess of 300 complainants were identified and losses exceeding $150,000 were recorded. Investigators identified complainants in every Canadian province and several locations in the United States.
Investigators received help from police agencies throughout North America, numerous financial institutions and Halifax Public libraries staff, as the fraudsters utilized their sites to commit some of the offences. This file would not have been successful without their assistance.
Yesterday, investigators arrested eight individuals at various locations in HRM. Seven were kept in custody and will appear in Halifax Provincial Court later today to answer multiple fraud-related charges. The following is a list of the accused:
- 23-year-old Sarajane Hope Mansfield of Dartmouth
- 24-year-old Joshua Andrew Orde of Halifax
- 24-year-old Christian Stephen Orde of Dartmouth
- 27-year-old Bradley Charles Orde of Dartmouth
- 28-year-old Ashley Anna Goodwin of Dartmouth
- 52-year-old Heather Joy Orde of Dartmouth
- 53-year-old Charles Maxwell Orde of Dartmouth
Police routinely receive complaints from citizens regarding ads on local websites. In 2011 alone, scams associated with online auctions and shopping were the second highest grossing scam, with $8 million in losses reported Canada-wide. Scams include 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 could 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/fire-police/police/reporting-crime