Friday, November 13, 2009

Latest Internet Classified Ad Fraud Unveiled in Whilster - - Craigslist Scam Averted By Money Transfer

The Whistler RCMP are investigating yet another fraud related to the Internet classified ad site Craigslist.

In this instance a group from the U.S. attempted to rent a property from a landlord in Whistler, who requested a $2,000 deposit by wire transfer to secure the residence through the 2010 Games. There was an issue with the information provided by the landlord to the renters, however, and Western Union halted the transaction before it could be completed.

The incident was reported on Nov. 6, just days after the wire transfer was attempted. RCMP are investigating a possible attempt at fraud. The suspect gave a Whistler name, address and cell phone number, but at press time the RCMP were unable to track down the suspect.

According to Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair people should always take care renting through the Internet, especially if it involves sending money by wire transfer.

"If there's no face-to-face meeting, that should raise a red flag. If the person is in a country far, far away then red flag. Or if it seems too good to be true then that's also a red flag."

The RCMP is still investigating two Craigslist frauds reported in previous weeks. In one, a Whistler resident sent a buyer a watch he was advertising through the site but did not realize until later that the purchaser sent a phony PayPal confirmation.

In another, a landlord received a $3,800 cheque for the first month of rent at a residence, then sent back a $3,600 wire transfer after the renters - reportedly based in the U.K. - pulled out. It later turned out that the original cheque was not legitimate. The Whistler RCMP has contacted Interpol to investigate.

Hotel staff room cleaned out

A hotel in Whistler's Upper Village contacted the Whistler RCMP on Nov. 5 at 11:30 a.m. after noticing the theft of a safe, computer and various personal items from a staff room on the premises. The incident occurred between 5 p.m. on Nov. 1 and when the file was reported.

Since then the safe has been recovered, empty and damaged. The incident is still under investigation.

Guests alerted to potential identity theft

A local hotel has had to inform nine guests that their personal information has been compromised after a thief made off with a stack of guest registration cards from the front desk on the morning of Nov. 8.

An employee of the hotel noticed the cards were missing almost immediately and reviewed security footage from the area. He saw a male, possibly First Nations with a slight moustache, dark hoodie, baseball cap, jeans and white shoes, reach behind the desk and take the cards at roughly 9:40 a.m. that day. The cards contain information about the guests including credit card information, contact information and home address. The police are treating the incident as a possible attempt at identity theft.

The Whistler RCMP has referred the case to the Lower Mainland RCMP's identity theft taskforce.

"Local police have reviewed the video and we were unable to recognize him as one of our local suspects," said LeCLair.

All of the hotel guests were notified, and the hotel is following up with the nine guests who had their information taken.

Don't leave your valuables in your vehicle

Another week brought more reports of break-ins to vehicles. This time two vehicles were broken into in the underground parking area at the Pan Pacific overnight on Nov. 7. Various items like a GPS and iPod were taken, and both cars had windows damaged.

The RCMP are constantly reminding people not to leave valuables in their vehicles. Reports have come in recently from private and secured underground lots, public lots and even from outside private residences.

Canada-wide hunt for Squamish rapist

A man accused of entering the vehicle of a Kamloops woman who was sleeping in her car at Brennan Park Recreation Centre in Squamish, sexually assaulting her and forcing her to drive him to Burnaby, where he also allegedly robbed her and assaulted her a second time, has been identified as Shaun Richard Funk, 35 of no fixed address. RCMP are searching for Funk.

The incident took place overnight on Aug. 28 and ended at 4 a.m. on Aug. 29 when Funk fled her vehicle on foot.

Funk is also suspected in an attack in Ladysmith where he allegedly broke into the home of a woman in her 50s and assaulted her. The police believe he also attempted to break into another residence that night but fled before committing a crime.

Funk is originally from Manitoba and has resided in Alberta in the past. He is known to stay at campgrounds, eat at bars and restaurants before running out on his tabs. He is also believed to have a crack cocaine habit.

Funk is described as a Caucasian male with brown hair and eyes, between 5'8" and 5'10" tall and roughly 150 pounds. He has tribal art tattoos on his upper right arm and a mole on the right side of his chin.

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