Patian Hotfield, a businessman in Bridgewater, NS, has been asking a lot of investigators when he answers his phone these days.
This is because he uses the name of the owner and fraudster of the Ego Box Containers and Storage Limited company that sells shipping containers to misuse it.
“My reputation has gone down the toilet from surprise,” Hotfield said.
She is a soldier in a myriad of extensive scams, no doubt looking for victims to buy online, unseen.
What makes Hotfield itself so annoying is that his company name is used to exploit people.
One of those individuals was Spencer Osmond, a resident of Canning, N.S.
Osmond, who runs a small business, called Kijiji, an online classified advertising service for storing goods, for a shipping container – marine cans. He looked at several ads and chose what he liked at a comparable price.
He called the seller, who identified himself as Ivan and the company as Box Containers LLC.
Osmond had many conversations about stock, pricing, shipping time and where the containers were located.
“I got proper answers,” he said. “One., They said they had a big place in Brampton, and they have another place in Bridgewater.”
Using emails and texts, Osmond agreed to pay for a 40-foot container, nine feet high and eight feet wide, for 4,020, as well as for his canning location.
He said the invoice received the full amount along with the email address for the e-transaction. The money was needed before the container could be shipped, so he paid for it.
“We’m a small business here, we’re very new, so I buy and ship power transmissions on a daily basis.
But when the delivery date came and went without delivery, Osmond called the company.
“They stopped responding to my emails and text messages, so I started to get suspicious,” he said.
His wife contacted the company using a different email address and phone number, but when the couple identified themselves, the company stopped responding to him.
‘Ask the bud, your money is gone’
Osmond drove about 112 kilometers to the Bridgewater business as the box shipping containers LLC operated. Once there, he discovered Hotfield’s shipping container business and learned that he was not affiliated with the company that paid for the container.
Subsequent calls to Box Containers LLC confirmed the fraud.
“When I last spoke to him, he looked at me and smiled, ‘Ask the bud, your money is gone.’ At that point, he said he knew the chances of seeing his money back were” zero “.
Osmond, one of dozens of people who contacted Hotfield, said he received two calls each day. People have come to his company site by a truck and plan to take the newly purchased container.
Hotfield is being contacted by Cape Breton Regional Police. He said the officer told him he was investigating a complaint about a shipping container, but it was never received.
In New Brunswick, Kodiak RCMP said they were investigating a complaint from someone who paid $ 10,000 for two shipping containers advertised in Kiziji, which had never been delivered.
In Nova Scotia, the RCMP has received six complaints of possible maritime fraud between October 13 and early December, spokesman Charget said. Andrew Joyce.
Although Joyce was unable to provide the names of the companies currently under investigation by the police force, he said the total dollar loss was 4,17,420.
“The use of the addresses of legitimate businesses in other provinces is simply a layered technique used by a fraudster to add legitimacy and cover to their fraud,” he said.
Joyce This scam is not uncommon and has been around for some time – although it involves storage containers, a similar scam occurs in pets, rental properties and other items that people want to buy.
Kijiji has shown several shipping container ads from the same person in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba.
When Kijiji responded to the ad in early December, Ron Atsinger of Alomta, LaCombe, was in a shipping container market. He asked for the name of the company and was sent to Bigmax Containers.
Adsinger said he was told the company needed the full cost of the container before it was shipped. But he was skeptical and refused to send the funds, saying in a speech to the company that he would not do it because “there are a lot of scams out there.”
Instead, he told me to look at the container first. When he was told it was not possible, his suspicions were confirmed and he stopped contacting the person who posted the ad.
Who are the perpetrators of this scam?
The two companies identified by Atsinger and Osmond are Box Containers LLC and Bigmax Containers.
Both have professional looking websites, but on closer inspection there are no details about the businesses.
BigMax Containers has a phone number and email address, showing that it has offices in Bridgewater, Toronto, Vancouver and 2982 Fulton Road. In New York.
Canadian locations do not have civic addresses, but the Fulton Road address search shows many of them in the state, with nothing to do with the business known as Bigmax Containers.
It is unclear whether the two companies are run by the same person, but both in text and phone conversations tell customers that they have offices in Hotfield’s business in Bridgewater and in Seaport Intermodal in Ont, Brampton.
Seabord Intermodel’s main business is shipping containers, although it sells a few.
Vice President Alex Cardin said he received three or four inquiries from his company in October, which found his company address on the Box Containers LLC website and called to inquire about the purchase of a container.
He did not ask those who cheated for a container, but did not receive it.
The CBC Newsbox Containers LLC and BigMax containers attempted to communicate by email, text and telephone.
The CBC reached out to “Andrew” at BigMax, but when a reporter explained that he was investigating complaints about the company, there was no answer, and “Andrew” no longer answered questions or spoke, although he was in that line. He did not respond to subsequent calls or voicemails or emails.
Box Containers LLC did not respond to our inquiries.
Police investigation is difficult
Joyce, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia RCMP, said investigations into the scams could be lengthy and relevant – and that although police “have had some success in these scams”, the perpetrators could be anywhere in the world.
He said it could take several months to get approval to access emails, phone and bank records. Fraudsters can also involve others in the payment process, which further complicates the investigation, Joyce said.
“Unfortunately, the investigation leads to a bank account fraud, which often leads to a country with limited relations with Canada, outside the country,” he said, adding that after a lot of effort and resources the investigation cools down.
Joyce said he did not want to blame the victims of these scams because “the perpetrators of these scams can be very assertive and deceptive.” The best way to avoid sacrificing is to check in person whether the item is available and the seller is in order.
It is dangerous to trust photos only because there is no way for the buyer to confirm that the item in the photo is the real object they are paying for.
According to Spencer Osmond, he understood the fact that he was 4,020 long.
At the time, he thought he had done it with his perfect diligence, but now backwards, he said he did not pick up some red flags.
“I was satisfied with the way things were bought online because Covid and things weren’t open,” Osmond said.