Autism t-shirt scam hits Mississauga community Facebook groups

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Published January 13, 2023 at 2:45 pm

autistic t shirt scam mississauga

A scam that has been circulating in the United States, involving a t-shirt purportedly designed by an autistic youth, is appearing in Mississauga Facebook groups.

The scammer posts a photo of a t-shirt that looks like it has been specially designed for the community. The design is an anchor with the city name, and the words “unsalted” and “shark-free.”

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“My son is autistic and he learned design, this is his second design,” a post in the Meadowvale Mississauga Community group reads. “I was the first to order this T-shirt from him, he asks what you think about his design, he follows this post, please everyone encourage him!!”

The post is followed by a link to an online store to supposedly buy the shirt.

autistic t-shirt scam

A similar post appeared in a Port Credit Facebook group in December.

And this post, with nearly identical wording, has popped up in U.S. community Facebook groups for several months now.

One U.S. news outlet said some people fell victim to the scam.

autism t shirt scam mississauga

A quick search online shows dozens of t-shirts with the same design. 

“Facebook t shirt scam, trying to take advantage of people’s sympathy by claiming it’s designed by a autistic child. Utterly disgusted by this,” a Reddit post reads.

People who follow the link reportedly think they ordered a shirt but no shirt ever arrives. There is also a possibility of losing credit card information.

The exact same wording and t-shirt is in this Facebook post for Bowmanville.

autism t shirt scam

There are other similar posts with someone pretending to be the parent, friend or relative of an autistic youth with a different shirt design.

Peel Regional Police tells insauga.com they haven’t had complaints related to this type of post. But add that it is similar to other frauds.

“This type of incident falls under the same trends worldwide where these fraudsters have no morals and pray on people’s sympathies to take their money,” police said.

Public education and awareness are vital in preventing the continuation of this type of fraud.

Police offered these tips:

  • Do your research. Verify the organization or person.
  • Do not be afraid to say no.
  • Any requests for money should be treated with caution.
  • Avoid clicking on convenient links; source the service separate and apart from what is provided in an email or message.
  • Do not prepay someone you have never met for services or products through Interac e-transfer or by prepaid gift cards.
  • Do not send currency via Bitcoin ABM at the direction of someone you do not know and trust.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns of this type of “merchandise” scam.

Canadians should use caution when buying and selling online.

“In 2021, frauds associated to buying or selling goods or services online accounted for more than $21.1 million in reported losses,” the Anti-Fraud Centre notes on its website. “Non-delivery scams (including puppy scams, rental scams, and deceptive marketing of counterfeit goods) have all increased over the pandemic period.”

Scammers are constantly creating fake ads online. To reach potential victims, they use classified ads sites, resale sites, website pop-ups, and fake company websites, the centre notes.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre tips to avoid this type of scam:

  • Know the market value of the product you are buying or selling
  • Don’t trust extremely low or high offers
  • Beware of buyers and sellers that use urgency
  • Beware of buyers who offer to buy an item without seeing the product first
  • Do an online search to see if anyone has already reported the fraudulent buyer or seller

For more on this and other similar scams, see the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website. 

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