Dozens of Regina residents say they are out money after buying gift baskets online

Dozens of people in Regina say they are out money after purchasing gift baskets online over the holidays.

Regina resident Jason Zaphe said when his neighbour Justin Newberry approached him with gift baskets for sale in mid-December, he placed an order for 12 for a total cost of $730.

“It was really nice, it was a beautiful little arrangement full of chocolates and everything. He told me he builds them, him and his wife and sells them,” Zaphe said.

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The baskets were advertised through the Facebook Page “JT Candy Creations,” but Zaphe said once Christmas rolled around the only things he got were excuses.

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“This went on for basically right until Dec. 31 of all the promises,” Zaphe said.

“Finally he sent me a message saying, ‘I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t have them made, I didn’t make them, I don’t have them. I’m going to give you all your money back and I’m also going to give you all your baskets no charge.’”

But Zaphe said that never happened and he’s not the only one, as several others shared similar complaints online.

Regina police confirmed they are investigating after receiving three reports in regards to the baskets although, police have not named Newberry or JT Candy Creations specifically.

While some claim to be out hundreds of dollars for baskets never delivered, others say they are out money Newberry collected for seniors gift basket donations.

Read more: Spotting online holiday shopping scams

Global News spoke with one of the care homes involved which was promised 85 baskets for seniors back in October, baskets they said were never received and left the seniors heartbroken.

“It’s very concerning especially right now in the times we are in, trust is a huge thing,” Zaphe said.

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“It takes a lot for someone to trust someone and give them money, especially when you are playing on the Christmas season.”

Global News did confirm Newberry has an outstanding warrant in Lethbridge, Alta. for two counts of fraud and was also convicted of fraud in 2004 and 2006.

He was arrested at his home Monday evening for an unrelated bench warrant in Saskatchewan.

Prior to his arrest, Newberry posted an apology to his business page. The page was seemingly removed at the time this article was published.

“I got really overwhelmed it was a hobby I didn’t expect it to go that big,” Newberry said in a phone call with Global News.

“I’m sorry to everybody, that’s what I’ve posted, I’m rectifying the situation and I’m literally fixing everything as we speak.”

While some said they did receive baskets, others said they have received refunds for the baskets they never got. But some like Zaphe said he’s not holding his breath.

The Better Business Bureau said similar online purchasing complaints have become more prevalent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said the flourishing underground industry is even stronger with more people online. The BBB added it’s important to research a business before making a purchase.

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“We always give extra cautious advice if (businesses) are asking for cash or e-transfers,” said Karen Smith, Better Business Bureau Regina CEO.

“(E-transfers) are not reversible and they are not traceable so anytime you are dealing with the online purchase you have to make sure you are using the method to protect yourself.”

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Fake brand ambassador offers targeting users on social media – Dec 10, 2020

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