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Fool’s Gold

creative commons image courtesy of Nisha A

Looking for a big ticket item on your local Used site? Don’t be fooled into buying stolen goods. I don’t mean to be a total downer on you, but this is a fact of life with online classifieds like So what can you do to protect yourself?

First of all, check under the ‘Community Notices’ section for any similar items listed as ‘Lost’ or under the ‘Info Wanted’ page. ┬áHave a look at nearby Used sites as well; for example, if you’re shopping for a Plasma TV in Victoria, check the UsedNanaimo, UsedPQB, UsedCowichan, etc sites as well. Trust your gut on this one – if anything seems too similar or even a little fishy, keep shopping. Don’t be afraid to report the ad, either!

Keep in mind that even if you didn’t steal the item in question, buying it and being in possession of it can get you into trouble. You shouldn’t be leaving any paper trail (no mailing cheques or using PayPal!), which makes it even more difficult to prove that it wasn’t you in the event the police show up at your door.

It wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on your local police department’s news releases section; many of them even have RSS feeds that you can subscribe to. In addition to the general rules of keeping yourself safe when shopping Used online, VicPD recommend trying to make sure you can identify the seller if need be, and if possible obtain some form of a receipt.

You ought to keep lists of the serial numbers of your electronics anyway, and in a safe place at that. In the event that something of yours gets stolen, post that information to your local Used site under ‘Community Notices’ so that other buyers on the site can help identify the item if it pops up. If you come across any ‘Lost’ ads with serial numbers, double check them with the product you’re looking at buying before handing money over.

Stay safe out there, team! And remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!


Student, future entrepreneur, blogger, traveler, soccer player, writer, amateur yogi, creativity enthusiast, fashion devotee.

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