A nearly two-year-long investigation has led to dozens of charges in connection with a series of online frauds.
Edmonton police started looking into reports of marketplace frauds in December 2020.
In each incident, a suspect responded to an online ad on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji and, due to the pandemic, asked the seller to bring the item to a specified address for a contactless delivery.
The seller then brought the item to the address, left and waited for an e-transfer that never came.
The incidents took place between May 2020 and September 2021.
Investigators have determined the suspects collected more than $190,000 worth of property in about 70 different incidents.
EPS says the most common item was computer equipment, such as graphics cards and laptops. The most expensive item stolen was valued at approximately $20,000.
On Monday, charges were laid against five men and one woman — Rewan Sadullah, 21; and Corbin Budd, 21, are now facing a combined total of 163 charges, including fraud under $5,000, fraud over $5,000, identity theft, extortion and utter a forged document.
Shukri Sadullah, 47; Perwin Sadullah, 42; Ravink Sadullah, 23; and Redar Sadullah, 21; are also each facing one charge of possession of stolen property.
Police say the suspects know each other and some are members of the same family.
“Concluding this investigation required reviewing a large number of online communications and would not have been possible without the work of a dedicated team of officers,” said Staff Sgt. Ahmed Alkarout.
“These accused took advantage of many people during an already tense and stressful time, and we are pleased that we are able to hold them accountable.”
Investigators continue to remind citizens to take precautions when buying or selling items online, including:
- Meeting the buyer/seller during the day at a public location, ideally with video surveillance
- Bring someone with you or let friends or family know where you are going, what time you are meeting and all the details about who you are meeting
- Take screenshots of the buyer’s/seller’s contact information and all communications in the application or website you are using
- As a seller, do not leave your property unattended, and do not give the buyer your property until you verify you’ve received payment
- As a buyer, do not disclose to the seller how you will be paying if it’s not necessary. Ask the seller for a bill of sale when the transaction is complete
- If your property is stolen, report it to police.
This article was originally sourced from www.globalnews.ca