UPDATE: The police told us that anyone else who has been frauded by Ethan and did not get their money back, should call them at 416-888-2222 and ask to speak to the communications department.
I submitted a CAFC Fraud Reporting System, file number 2020-142083
Nov 27 update: Ethan is still actively committing fraud on kijiji. Additional listing and chat conversation added at the bottom of this post.
A few weeks ago a friend asked Naomi and me for some advise on getting a second hand macbook laptop. After looking around for a while, a nice deal came up a few days ago that was slightly cheaper than most laptops. Sold by what looks like some small computer shop called “9067388 Canada LTD”. And thus begins the saga of Ethan Sin, A.KA. Ethan Singam, A.K.A. GEETHAN VANNIYASINGAM.
(Note this posting has been updated to redact the friend’s name)
The Kijiji ad that started this all was finally taken down on Nov 19 during the day.
I told my friend that we would drive up to her and be there with her to pick it up at the Tim Hortons, just to ensure the Mac was working and we could get her Apple ID on it – to ensure it was not some stolen device. My friend called us an hour later saying the seller asked her to etransfer $40 to show that she was really going to show up, since he had other people offering to buy it as well. She asked if that was safe. Note that etransfers here in Canada are linked to your bank account. So unless you are going to take money and leave Canada forever, you are not going to mess around with that. She also by now had his phone number (289-600-9580), so if this was fraud, he would also be burning his phone number. A new SIM in canada is still like $15 or so. Plus, we had an email address to etransfer the money to, firstname.lastname@example.org
It seemed this was safe. And a real fraud would ask for more than $40 right? Also, this kijiji account was a few years old. Petty criminals aren’t in it for the long game. They don’t setup accounts to commit fraud years later. So my friend etransfered the $40.
A little while later, he informed my friend that he was going to be a little late. Something with picking up his mother. Meanwhile, we all drove up (in separate cars, there is a pandemic going on) to the Timmies up north. The guy was late. Very late. An hour and a few excuses later, still nothing. We guessed it was a fraud after all. Time to do some research.
What does the Canadian Chamber of Commerce know?
The company associated with the kijiji ad was founded in October 2014, and dissolved for “non-compliance” in August 2019. It was located at 19-13085 Yonge St suite 211 in Richmond Hill. Their latest filing shows the only directory is Yuri Nogaev residing at 2220 Lake Shore blvd Suite 1601 in Toronto. Yuri was also a director for another company “National Water Comfort LTD”:
This company, located at the same address, was also dissolved by the government for non-compliance. This company has one other directory along with Yuri, GEETHAN VANNIYASINGAM.
That seems to match up nicely with the email address the etransfer was sent to, email@example.com. Some further investigation gives us Ethan’s current adventure, Ethan Advertising Incorporated, which still has a website at www.ethanadvertising.com. Note this company is claiming to sell branded tote bags and the above screenshot on the laptop showed someone working on “bag” things.
The website does not list an address for the company, only a contact phone number of 289-779-5556, which differs from the one Ethan gave my friend (289-600-9580). The domain registration is not very useful, as GoDaddy does not reveal much and places itself as proxy in between. We see a domain creation date of Jan 20, 2020.
Let’s pull up some corporate information. There is also Athena Management Services Inc:
But other than some old address information, no interesting new information. But then we found Ethan Advertising:
It links to the government registration:
Which in turns gives us a new address: 946 Wildwood Dr, Newmarket ON L3Y 2B5, Canada. And this postal code matches the kijiji ad location! He must still be living there.
Although at this point it seems unlikely he actually owns the laptop he claims to want to sell. I mean, if you do this fraud, you would just grab a random laptop image from the internet and put up a fake ad….. Or would you? A reverse image search on Yandex didn’t give us a matching photo, and we don’t have much other data to investigate. Except, there is that laptop screenshot in the ad. If you look at the background you see it contains a folder what appears to be someone’s resume:
[updated to redact the name of the person on the resume. Let’s call this person “Friend”]
Let’s see if we can find [Friend]. It seems to be someone located in Toronto according to Facebook: [facebook url redacted]
The last thing this person did publicly was post an ad to sell some – familiar looking – Sailor Moon bed sheets. Let’s compare the photos:
No way! The same sheets and pillows are visible in the laptop photos of the kijiji ad. So the guy committing a kijiji fraud did not pick a random internet image, but somehow ended up using a local image? Perhaps it was [Friend] who sold the laptop and the sheets?
Naomi posted a comment to the facebook ad for the sheets with “Hi, do you know Ethan Singam“.
Since we had no indication she is related to Ethan, we decide to warn her and see if we could get a confirmation she sold that laptop ages ago by sending her a message.
We did not get a response. But shortly after we sent the message, the bedsheets that had been listed for sale for a month suddenly vanished. If this had happened to me, I would at least have replied with something and not just silently removed my stale for-sale post. Even if just to ensure it doesn’t look like I’m cleaning up my posting linking me to this guy that is committing fraud.
It’s a wrap, or is it?
My friend obviously send a text message telling him she wanted her money back, and not expecting any further messages. The next day she received:
Seriously, the “I forgot my charger” excuse does not work anymore in a world where every phone is charged by Lightning or USB connector…
My friend did tell him her email address, even though he knows it as it is visible in the email interact transfer. So asking for the email address seems just a stalling tactic. Note that there is no word about the laptop sale. Perhaps he sold the laptop for more when someone offered more, or he decided to no longer sell it. But he doesn’t say anything like that. He is now just focused on returning the $40 without explanation of why his died phone prevented him from driving to the Tim Hortons. It’s as if there never was a laptop …..
He must have already spent most of his $40 that he got only a day ago. Not a big saver. Sending money with a Tangerine account is free, so we asked him to send the $14 now and the rest later. We kind of wanted to see if we could get a confirmation of his identity via the financial transaction in case he really got concerned about his unwise scheme unfolding as it did. But we didn’t have high hopes. And sure enough:
We are fairly confident the $40 won’t get returned next Friday or the Friday after that. This was surely where the story would end. Except it didn’t. A day later Naomi noticed that she had received this message on Facebook:
Look, this Ethan is using the same logo as Ethan Advertising. This account Ethan Sin was already active in 2018 and not just created for this response. Perhaps what happened was that [Friend] first saw the comment left by Naomi on the facebook ad for the sheets and reached out to Ethan, who replied right away to Naomi. Then [Friend] saw the message about fraud and quickly deleted the posting – and presumably told Ethan. But it was too late. He had already replied. And by contacting Naomi back, he confirmed Ethan, [Friend] and the laptop are all connected to each other.
I’m surprised the kijiji ad is still up. It has now been reported by my friend, by Naomi and by me as a fraud. Is he really making many times $40 on this fraud? Will he really pay the $40 back next Friday? Stay tuned! (it was taken down a day later)
UPDATE: Ethan did do this multiple times, Here is a link to a “Kijiji warning ad” from someone else who got scammed warning people about Ethan. If you got frauded, please feel free to contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org. !
UPDATE2: Combining the Facebook “read message” indicator timestamp with my server logs, we now know Ethan has read this blog post using his Rogers cell phone:
2607:fea8:560:3e00:7c83:a36c:388c:f195 – – [19/Nov/2020:11:43:38 -0500]
That should give the police another piece of information linking the person to the facebook account
UPDATE3: Ethan was contacted by [Friend] whom I gave a link to this posting and this prompted him to contact me to ask to take the post down or at leats the friend’s details. He ended up paying back the money he stole (well, $39.60 of it) so I redacted his friend’s details. He or Kijiji took down the fraud posting. Oddly enough, he included his conversation with [Friend] as a screenshot, showing [Friend] saying “I thought you already sold your laptop”.
So I guess he really put it up for sale, and then smelled an opportunity to get some more money. I don’t know how much he frauded people, but if he only did this twice, he could have gotten the same amount of money legally by properly pricing his laptop’s market value (which was defintely $80 lower than the commonly used price by other sellers.
Poorly executed crime doesn’t pay
So here it is, the repayment in all its glory, including the mixup of name and being $0.40 short:
UPDATE4: We now have heard of a third person that was frauded for $100 by Ethan who shared some screenshots with us:
November 27: Ethan is still doing his fraud scheme. This time as a different (old) kijiji account with no identifying name. And since he already pulled the listing, it’s hard to identify this account. The original kijiji posting was https://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-details.html?adId=1538151094
His typical “give me some money to reserve it” scheme on this entry submitted to me by another user who was smart and googled for the etransfer email address first (and found this blog post):