COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Online marketplaces can have great discounted items and a convenient place to sell your own items.
Now organized crime experts are warning shoppers to beware of buying stolen goods.
“They’re targeting merchandise they can sell really quickly on online marketplaces as well as pawnshops and places like that,” said Mike Combs, Director of Organized Retail Crime Investigations at Home Depot
Combs said it’s extremely difficult for law enforcement to catch these criminals.
“The shopping event is what starts the whole chain of events, so we’re trying to harden the target,” said Combs.
According to a recent study by the Buy Safe America Coalition, retail theft has skyrocketed to over $68 billion a year.
“The reality is mom said it best, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is,” said Officer Chuck McPhilamy with Marietta Police Department.
Officer McPhilmay explained that thieves often hide behind counterfeit accounts and fake names because many sellers using online marketplaces aren’t required to provide or verify contact information.
“Look at the profile of that individual. Are they selling numerous items that are all brand new in the box?”
He said shoppers should examine the photo of the product.
“The picture that you’re looking at in that online marketplace, is that stock art that they’ve pulled offline or is that an actual photo that they’ve taken?”
Combs said consumers who are looking for hard-to-find holiday gifts, should watch out for hot or stolen items being sold at a far lower price than the retail store.
“Sometimes you’ll see communication from the seller where they’re bragging that they can get more of this product, or what is it that you need, and they can get it, that would definitely be a warning sign.”
If you notice any of these warning signs, you should immediately contact your local law enforcement.
“It’s how we’re trying to work together as a community so that all of us don’t end up paying more money in the end because of a few bad actors willing to steal.”