The Sierra Vista Police Department urges citizens to be cautious when making online purchases that seem too good to be true because they could be unknowingly participating in a fraud or identity theft scam.
The police department investigated two recent cases involving someone shopping on websites with products and third party memberships offered at steep discounts of one-third or one-fourth of the retail price. The sites were made to appear legitimate, to include featuring customer testimonials.
In cases like this, the scammer requests payment via an app or online service like Paypal, Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App, then they purchase the ordered products or services using stolen account information from another victim, pocketing the money transferred by the actual buyer. The buyer may just think they got an incredible deal and may not know they could become a suspect in an identity theft or fraud case when the account holder reports the unauthorized activity to the police.
“If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” SVPD Public Information Officer Cpl. Scott Borgstadt says. “Be especially cautious when using unfamiliar websites or social media accounts to make purchases, particularly when payment via credit card is not an option.”
When the fraud or identify theft victim notices the unauthorized purchases and contacts the police, the buyer whose name is listed on the order becomes the first suspect. Regardless of whether the buyer actually receives the product or service or is identified as a suspect in a police investigation, the scammer keeps the amount paid for the purchase.
If anyone suspects a website or social media account may be involved in a scam, they are urged to hold off on making any purchases and report the site or account to the Sierra Vista Police Department at (520) 452-7500.