Dianne Axworthy said she placed an ad on Kijiji to warn people what happened to her and to try to catch the culprit.
"To a lot of people $200 might not be a lot of money but to me it is," she said.
Axworthy said she was overwhelmed by the people offering to help.
"It goes to show there's a lot of good people out there."
Axworthy, who has four children ages 16 months to nine years old, responded to an ad on Kijiji for an Apple iPad for sale last week.
"My nine-year old son really wanted one for Easter," she said.
"I had already saved up and purchased one, but this one was the exact same and I was able to save money, so I took the other one back to the store."
On Jan. 21 Axworthy met up with the man in his 20s driving a blue Grand Am in the parking lot at Target.
"He said he was selling it so he could fix his truck and put it on the road. "
Axworthy checked the iPad, found it was working great and purchased it for $200.
She put it away but brought it out Saturday.
"My sister wanted to get my son a cover for it for Easter so I thought I'd also try it out."
After the system asked for a password, Axworthy sent a text to the seller.
"He said it could be one of two passwords and gave me both."
However, while trying to get into the system, the iPad suddenly stopped charging and locked her out.
"I texted him again and told him I still couldn't get in it. When I told him I was locked out, the messages stopped," she said.
"I tried calling the number he had texted me from but it said the phone wasn't set up to receive incoming calls."
A short time later, police knocked on Axworthy's door looking for the iPad, explaining it was stolen merchandise.
"As soon as I connected it to the Internet, it had locked the iPad up and it gave the GPS directions to my house."
Axworthy put her story and information on the seller, including his text numbers, on Kijiji. People noticing the ad began sharing it on Facebook.
Her ad received 15,000 views before Kijiji took it down, stating it didn't meet their guidelines.
"I only placed the ad wanting to prevent this from happening to someone else and to catch him so I could get my money back," Axworthy said.
After seeing the message on Facebook, Tony Nemis of New Waterford immediately posted a message on Facebook asking friends for help.
"I started reading it and it just broke my heart,” he said, adding he didn't know her.
"I thought, 'That's not right, I'm doing something.' I'm getting teary-eyed talking about it."
After posting the message he began getting flooded with responses.
"I got about 15 people — within minutes — willing to throw in money. I just love people in this community because they will come together for stuff."
Nemis said Charlie Hogan from Scotchtown then contacted him to let him know the money for the iPad had been covered. Hogan gave the woman $50 plus a $50 gift certificate from Future Shop. Marie Osmond, formerly of New Waterford and now of Prince Edward Island, contributed the rest needed.
Hogan said although he didn't know Axworthy, the sad story caught his eye.
"She was getting it for him for Easter. What would happen if he had opened it on Easter and then the cops showed up at their door? The young fellow would have been traumatized. We have to help each other out around here."
Axworthy said she was overwhelmed and is grateful to Osmond and Hogan for their help.
"I'm so appreciative to them and the others who had offered to help,” she said.
"If my son had opened the iPad Easter morning and then the police came an hour later, he would have been devastated."
Desiree Vassallo, spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said police recovered a stolen iPad in New Waterford on Jan. 25.
"It had been previously reported stolen to police earlier in the week, on Jan. 21."
Vassallo said the actual owner of the iPad later saw it listed for sale on Kijiji.
"Police then followed up on that information. That's how they were able to track the iPad to the location in New Waterford, to the person who had purchased it from the Kijiji ad, not knowing of course they had purchased a stolen product."
Police have returned the iPad to the original owner in Sydney.
Vassallo said the person who sold the iPad through the ad has not yet been located and the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information can contact police at 563-5151.