Regina business out more than $200K in apparent PPE supplier scam
REGINA -- A Regina business is out thousands of dollars following an apparent scam involving a bulk order of gloves to be sold amid the pandemic.
Demand Janitorial and Equipment Repair said it began looking for a bulk supplier for personal protective equipment (PPE) in August and eventually settled on a supplier that claimed they were shipping out of Turkey.
“We picked this company in particular because their pricing was about 50 cents less than the rest which wasn’t too astronomical or out to lunch,” said Michelle Blackett, manager at Demand Janitorial.
Everything appeared to be in order, even receiving unique, dated photos of the supposed shipment inside a warehouse.
A working tracking number was also provided and appeared to show movement. After the initial one container order was shown to be making shipping progress, a second larger order was bought and paid for when the problems began.
“[The supplier] froze the entire order asking for more money and an astronomical amount of money – more than the original two orders combined,” Blackett said.
The supplier then told them more payment was required for an “anti-dumping fee” or they would need to more than double their order.
“[It’s] completely unfeasible for a business of our size to bring 10 shipping container loads of stuff in,” Blackett explained.
The company now believes it was the victim of an elaborate scam and said it’s out more than $200,000 as a result.
Blackett said she's heard of other businesses facing similar scams.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, pandemic-related scams have taken on many forms including those surrounding supplies like masks, gloves and more.
Blackett said the incident has been reported to the CAFC, but in the meantime they can only wait and see if an investigation pans out.
“We’re out a lot of money and hopefully we’ll make it through it,” Blackett said, adding insurance will not cover the loss.
Demand Janitorial hopes by sharing its experience it will help others from falling for similar schemes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues on.