Pitfalls of an online marketplace: RNC wants people to inform police about potential online fraud cases

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Recent case in St. John’s court highlights pitfalls of online marketplaces.

A provincial court judge has agreed to postpone — again — the sentencing of a St. John’s man found guilty of scamming people on Facebook Marketplace, though the judge was clear he wasn’t happy about it and won’t be postponing it again.

Judge Mike Madden didn’t accept a joint submission from Crown and defence lawyers on sentencing for 44-year-old Daniel Stansbury last October, saying he wanted to see proof that Stansbury had been making the stated efforts to turn his life around first.

“Is this information from an independent third party or is this just him telling you and you telling me, because his word doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight with the court,” Madden said to defence lawyer Candace Summers after she and prosecutor Alison Doyle made their submissions for a sentence of 135 days house arrest. Summers told the court Stansbury had been dealing with a drug addiction at the time of his recent crimes but had been working on overcoming them and addressing other life challenges.

Stansbury pleaded guilty Oct. 17 last year to 11 crimes: two counts of fraud under $5,000, three counts of theft under $5,000 and six charges of violating court orders.

Stansbury admitted defrauding a local man of $360 on Facebook Marketplace via an ad selling a bundle of vintage toys. The man told police he had agreed to send an electronic money transfer for the toys but got the run-around when it came to arranging to pick them up.

“Since then, (he) learned this scam was common for Mr. Stansbury,” Doyle said in her submissions.

In a second incident on the social media platform’s classified section, Stansbury asked for a $20 money transfer from a local woman who replied to his ad selling a vintage Strawberry Shortcake doll. She paid the money but Stansbury never showed up at the arranged time for her to pick up the doll, then blocked her on Facebook.

Two of the theft charges stem from incidents where Stansbury – and in one case, an accomplice — shoplifted alcohol from an NLC Liquor Express outlet in a Logy Bay Road convenience store, while the third involved Stansbury entering a Blackmarsh Road supermarket, walking around with a cart before concealing close to $200 worth of steak inside his jacket and then leaving the store. He was stopped by security personnel in the parking lot, who asked him to give the meat back. Stansbury handed over the steaks then left in an SUV.

Some of Stansbury’s court order breaches relate to his failure to attend required phone appointments with his probation officer. Over the course of two months he rescheduled a mandatory appointment four times but didn’t show up on either date.

Regular complaints

Police regularly receive complaints related to different scams on online classified sites, including Facebook, and have laid charges against multiple people for fraud, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary media relations officer Const. Jason Walsh told SaltWire Network.

There’s a common public belief that police won’t get involved if a buyer agrees to send an electronic money transfer before getting the purchased item, but this isn’t true, he said.

“Each and every (complaint) in relation to fraud on Marketplace or other online selling sites is investigated. There are certain circumstances where the exchange of money for a product might be a civil matter, but if a person fraudulently places an item online with no intention of providing it and accepts money for that item, it’s potentially a criminal issue.”

Furthermore, Walsh said, police want to know about these incidents, even if no charges are to be laid.

“It’s very important for us to be aware. These files don’t go away and could establish a pattern.”

This article was originally sourced from www.SaltWire.com