Victim of Internet Scam
Last week I posted an ad on Kijiji looking to see if anyone was selling a Canon 5D Mark III, because as most people know by now, my current camera is falling apart and just doesn't work well anymore. As a 21 year old who works part time and has to pay for life's necessities, I couldn't purchase a new camera for $3500.
A man from Ontario contacted me on Kijiji and said he had a camera and we can negotiate a price. We agreed on $1800, and I would pay him the $1000 upfront (I had saved that $1000 up for 2 years straight), and then I'd send the $800 when I received the camera in the mail and made sure it was in good condition. All seemed good and he seemed like a very respectable, kind, honest man. We had been communicating via text. I e-transferred him the money and he accepted. He didn't send it out that day as his daughter was "in the hospital after a diabetic attack" and he "couldn't leave her alone" as his wife had died and his daughter was all he had. I, being the nice person I am, sympathized and told him no worries.
So the next day he texted me saying he shipped it out. With a courier service called Safeway Courier. The name of it rang a bell (turns out I was thinking of Sameday Courier), so I didn't question why he shipped with that instead of Canada Post or FedEx. He gave me the tracking number and I go onto the site, put it in, and all seemed legit. He then asked me to send the $800 to help pay for medical bills for his daughter and stuff. I said I didn't feel comfortable doing that and he understood, although he kept bringing it up for days after.
Then last night I logged into my photography email and checked my spam inbox as I do from time to time, and I saw in my spam box is an email from "Safeway Courier" saying that my package was held at the Durham International Airport in Durham, Ontario and I had to pay tax revenue on it. $400. They didn't give me a place to send the money to, just said I had to send it to them for the camera to be sent on to me. I then googled this "airport" to get the number as I felt suspicious of this email, only to find out that the airport DOESN'T EXIST.
At this point I'm totally freaking out, and I went back to the Safeway Courier website and saw that they don't even have an office in Canada. Only in America, Australia, Ghana, and India. I called the American number. It was a number belonging to a random guy in America who was NOT Safeway Courier.
So I then immediately texted "Frank" and asked him exactly what was going on, why does Safeway Courier not exist in Canada, why are they asking for $400 in customs fees, why does their number not work, are you scamming me, etc. My father got on the phone and called this man, who finally picked up after a while. My father asked if he's speaking to Frank, he said yes, my father explained who he is and Frank said "oh I'm messaging her right now" and the line goes fuzzy and he hung up. That was at 1:45 PM on January 29th, and it is now 8:23PM on January 29th. Still no message from Frank. My father called the number back after half an hour, and it went straight to voicemail.
So we got on the phone to Scotiabank to see if there was a way to get the e-transfer back. There wasn't because he already accepted it, but they traced it. Even though I sent it to "Frank", a woman named Angie with the email address "sweet_angel_69er" accepted the transfer at National Bank somewhere in Canada. I then told Frank to reply to me or I would go to the police. No response. So I went to the police and filed a report. They say the likeliness of anything coming of it is slim to none, as that's what happens with 99% of these cases.
So now I'm out $1000 that took me 2 YEARS to save up, I'm probably not getting the money back, and I'm going on an extremely important photography trip in 2 weeks that I was trying very hard to get my new camera for. I'm stuck with my old camera and the fear that it may finally give out on me halfway through my trip, and I don't even have the money to put towards my camera. My family cannot afford to buy a new one, and I'm no longer trusting any independant sellers online. That is why I'm asking for $3000, as I am trying to get my new camera as soon as possible so I can run my business without fear of it breaking down halfway through a shoot, and without the shame and discouragement of the low quality photos it produces compared to the quality of my work. However, if I am able to make back the $1000 that has been stolen from me, I will be unbelievably, beyond grateful.
Please, if there is any way you could donate a dollar to help me out, it would be unbelievably appreciated. I am at a loss for what to do, and I've only opened this GoFundMe page at the recommendation of other people. I hate asking people for money, but at the time I currently cannot see another choice. I am trying to think of a way to give it back to anyone who donates, whether that be free shoots or prints, I want to personally thank anyone that can help me out in this extremely discouraging, hard time.
Thank you so much for reading, and to anyone who donates, my gratitude cannot be expressed simply through words. So imagine me reaching through the computer and giving you a giant hug. Thank you. <3
Thank you all for the support thus far. I couldn't have gotten this far without you and I will forever be in your debt. You've helped me get closer and closer to my goal, and I've almost made back the money that was stolen from me.
Unfortunately I will now be closing down the GoFundMe page. Since the CBC interview aired, I have received too much abuse and harassment over this from judgemental people who do not know me, my business, or my situation. This is already a stressful time and I just can't really deal with the harassment being thrown my way from those who are misunderstanding. I have both of my inboxes, on my page and my personal account, flooded with people accusing me of outlandish things, and people going so far as to search my family's name into Google in attempts to find out how much money my family has. This is something that I didn't expect. I was contacted by CBC, I did not contact them, as they wanted to interview me because they read my story and felt bad and wanted to help out. Nobody expected this backlash. So I have to take the GoFundMe down because I am starting to feel unsafe.
Thank you again to everyone who's donated. You are a true bunch of beautiful gems. I will find a way to get in touch with each of you to get details to send you something in return. And thank you to those who've shared, and supported me against those who make judgements and assumptions on the internet.
Much love to you all. I hope you all have a great evening.
I don't even know where to start! You are all the kindest souls in the world. When I started this GoFundMe, I never in a million years thought I'd get this many donations. I'm running out of words to say thank you because words just don't seem like enough! I wish I could give you all a huge hug. A huge thank you to CBC for having me on the radio and writing up an article on their webpage about my situation, thank you to all those who have donated to help me out, to those who've shared the link on social media, to those who've messaged me to give me support, to those who've offered the use of their cameras, and to those who've defended me against the negative commenters. You've all brightened my spirits so much and I really just can't find words to express how thankful I am. Thank you. Thank you.
I'd just like to address a question that's been popping up here and there, which is "why are you asking for $3000 if you lost $1000?". I put the reasoning in the description, however I know there's a lot of info in there so it could be glanced over easily! The camera I was scammed for costs $3500 to buy new, and the scammer was going to sell it to me for $1800... I would pay the thousand, and my parents were going to pay the $800 out of the goodness of their hearts as they knew the desperation of my camera situation. So with the $1000 of mine stolen, I'm back at the beginning of my journey. My photography trip is in 2 weeks, and I need the camera before then. That's why I made the goal closer to the actual cost of the camera. However, I've almost reached $1000, so I've almost gotten back what was stolen from me thanks to all the generous hearts of you guys. That's more than I could have ever asked for, and I am beyond grateful. I hope this has cleared up any confusion that had been going around!
All my love to you guys, seriously. I could not do this without you. Please, contact me on my Facebook page (facebook.com/sarahhallphotos) and I'll set you up with some prints or a shoot or something of the sort. I have to show my thanks in some way other than words!!!
This happened to my sister for a TV and she work on minimum wage with four girls to take care of. I told her she should have never done that and I warn everyone not to send money through Kijiji or any other site unless it's through pay pal. Also. Always meet in a public place. No exceptions.
Im sorry this happened to you because at the age of 21 you learned a lesson aboit scams and untrustworthy people and its takes away a level of trust that you have for otber people. I hope you raise tbe $1,000 that was taken from you and things get better for you