Bargain Deals Scam Website Targets Amusement Park Goers

7 August 2015

Imagine planning a fun day at Canada's Wonderland or Ripley's Aquarium of Canada when during your online surfing you come across an incredible deal on single-day tickets. The bargain deals website boasts about 7,126 tickets sold and even provides you with a link to share on Facebook for 10 percent off. You immediately jump on the deal, print your tickets and head to the park only to be told at the gate that your tickets were actually fake.

Several Canadians experienced just this with Red Deals website, similarly named after the legitimate Red Flag Deals website. Individuals who bought tickets were given an error message at payment and later found fraudulent charges on their credit card statements that were almost 20 times what they intended to pay for tickets. It turns out that the Chinese-based company only has an Edmonton post office box as an address, does not have a working telephone number and has been scamming people out of hundreds of dollars.

According to the The Star there were around 16,000 complaints filed regarding website and email scams sent to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in 2013, amounting to $29 million in losses.

“Cybercrime is expanding,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) writes in a report. “Through information technologies, criminals are expanding their reach to commit entirely new crimes and old crime in new ways.”

The Star reports that several victims of this bargain scam were able to receive refunds from their credit card companies and even the directly from Red Deals, but it begs the question, why is this website still up and running?

Canada’s Wonderland has attempted to shut the site down, but has found it difficult as many scammers are located outside of the country, which means they are not subject to Canadian law enforcement agencies.

In an interview with The Star, Canada's Wonderland spokeswoman, Shannon Kelly said, "We have asked assistance from York Regional Police to help remove this site. We contacted Visa to have them remove the card option," and their "ad agency has also contacted Google to question why they are allowing a fraudulent site to purchase ad space to promote their site." Which she added is, "still being investigated."

Many online bargain websites can look authentic, but always be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. To avoid falling victim to these kinds of promotional frauds, there are several simple steps you can take to differentiate imposters from authentic third-party sellers.

First, always check on the company’s website whose services, products or tickets you want to buy about what its policies are regarding third-party agencies. Many will list certain companies that are not affiliated with them, or state outright that they do not accept third-party ticket sales.

In the case of overseas scams, grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors are frequent telltale signs, as some of these fraudulent marketers do not write in fluent English. Furthermore, always be skeptical of companies with no listed contact information or phone numbers that do not work. Through following some of these simple tips, you can reduce your risk of becoming the victim of credit fraud.

Fraudsters’ techniques for stealing personal information are becoming more sophisticated and harder to identify. One way to gain peace of mind is to sign up for a credit monitoring service that can alert you in case of certain activity in your credit file that may be evidence of fraud.