Drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are among items being 'swapped'
for goods advertised for sale on the internet.
And police are warning people to be careful about what they
consider buying or trading on the net.
Michael Humphreys, 41, from Hei Hei, told The Star he
advertised his Honda Accord for sale last month for $1500 on
Facebook's Christchurch buy, sell and swap page.
The web page, which has 682 likes, has been operating since
June 2011 and anything can be advertised for free.
Mr Humphreys was surprised when he was offered two bags of
marijuana as a trade for his car.
"I was prepared to trade my car for a 32 inch television, not
marijuana. I was shocked when I was offered it. After I wrote
the post on Facebook, with a photo of my car, a 14-year-old
replied and said he would swap his television for my car. I
thought this was great but I didn't know he was 14 until an
adult informed me. It made me question how safe these sites
really are," he said.
Detective Inspector Dave Long said it is a serious crime to
offer and/or supply marijuana.
"Depending on the amount being offered it would result in a
fine or imprisonment. I am surprised that anyone would do
such a thing on Facebook. It's the first time I have ever
heard about anything like this happening before. It's a
concern to police because of how unsafe these sites are.
People need to be careful when they are using these pages
especially to sell goods," he said.
The page is monitored by social network site members who
report things to Facebook if they think people are trading
illegally or breaking the law.
Facebook did not return calls to The Star about the issue.
Mr Humphreys said he first encountered the page because he
wanted to advertise his car for free, instead of registering
an account with Trade Me, which would cost $10 plus a listing
fee of $39 and a $29.25 success fee if the car was sold.
"On Facebook you don't have any of these fees. But no-one is
monitoring the page. People can post and sell whatever they
like. It is dangerous especially given how easily accessible
it is to children," he said.
E ciggys, cartons of cigarettes, cheap hair straighteners,
mobile phones without chargers and mag wheels are some of the
items advertised for sale.
People can also write on the page if they are looking for a
specific car motor or item.
Mr Humphreys said the page and other similar pages were a
potential target for burglars who stole to order.
"They are advertising products at ridiculous prices. They are
so cheap and they don't care who they sell these items to.
It's dangerous for children and for adults because of the
risk it carries. You don't know if what you are buying is
stolen or legitimate," he said.
NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker said while it's not
illegal to list an item, depending what it is, for sale on
Facebook, people need to take extreme caution using the
social network site as a place to buy, sell or swap goods
because there isn't a team monitoring the activity that goes
"People are not excused from trading rules if they decide to
sell items on Facebook. If people are found to be breaking
the law then pages are removed. It is helpful but it isn't a
long term strategy. People are better paying the small fee of
advertising on Trade Me because it is safer. There is a team
that monitors activity and makes sure everything that's being
sold complies with trading rules and regulations," he said.
Mr Cocker said there are a raft of penalties if people are
caught selling illegal items online.
"Penalties vary depending on the offence. If you sell fake
goods that company can take civil action against you or if
sellers misrepresent items action is taken by the Commerce
Commission. People also need to be aware of fraudulent
trading - people saying they will ship goods but they don't.
People are at a higher risk trading on Facebook," he said.
- By Samantha McPherson, The Star