Amherstburg couple loses $3,000 trying to buy a tractor on Facebook
Eddie and Susan Strickland found a tractor on Facebook Marketplace and thought it was a good deal so they didn't want to delay.
The seller, who who said she was in Togo, Africa, allegedly told them through emails she was handling an estate sale and needed the money wired to her. The tractor would be shipped from Toronto.
The Stricklands took $3,000 cash to the post office at the Shoppers Drug Mart in LaSalle and bought a MoneyGram. The receipt contained a code they would give the person delivering the tractor. The code would be used to retrieve the funds.
When the tractor didn't arrive, the couple became suspicious and contacted MoneyGram but were told the money had been retrieved.
"We're pretty ... upset, embarrassed. Thought we did our homework, looked everything up online," said Susan.
"But at that point it was too late. The money had been taken, and we just wanted to just bury our heads in a pillow," said Eddie.
The Stricklands say they never gave the code to anyone.
MoneyGram has not returned calls for an interview, but in a letter they sent the Stricklands they say the seller did have the code when the money was retrieved in Togo on Feb. 28.
"When an agent is presented with identification that meets our photographic requirements and the correct reference number is provided, MoneyGram is contractually required to release the funds," wrote the Resolution Assurance Department for MoneyGram International.
"It's heart wrenching," said Eddie.
"You know, we we are retired folks here and we worked all our life. We're on a fixed income and it's really going to put a damper on the next few months," said Susan.
CBC News reached out to the alleged seller but hasn't heard back. But in an email to the Stricklands, the alleged seller wrote, "I did not receive the code so I did not touch your money."
On its website, MoneyGram warns people not to buy vehicles using MoneyGram and not to send money to people you don't know.
In the letter to the Stricklands, the company wrote,"Moneygram is a person-to-person money transfer service aimed at persons sending money to family and friends — individuals you personally know and trust. If you ask MoneyGram to pay someone who turns out to have defrauded you or who fails to meet their obligations to you, MoneyGram will not be liable as a result."
The Stricklands say they still hope they can get reimbursed.
"I don't know if we can, even though the one supervisor said if it can be proven that in Togo there was no reference number given that MoneyGram would reimburse us," said Susan.
In a March 3 email, the resolution assurance department tells the Stricklands they have received the complaint and are working on it as "high priority."
The company has faced scrutiny and penalties over protecting its clients. Just last month the US Postal Inspection Service disbursed $115 million US to 40,000 people who fell victim to fraud schemes through MoneyGram. The money comes from a fund the company has provided the U.S. government.
Bruce Cran, the president of the Consumers Association of Canada, says don't wire money to people you don't know.
"I think people generally have just got to keep a wary eye out on these advertised projects that look very different to anything else they might have seen. Why somebody would a buy a tractor in Canada and then pay in Togo, Africa? That should be a signal you should run the other way and very quickly," said Cran.
The Stricklands are no longer in the market for a tractor.
"I think we'll hire someone if we really need it," said Susan.
The Stricklands contacted Windsor police but say they were told there's not much the police could do. Police have told CBC News they can't comment on the matter at this time.