Christchurch police warn of Facebook Marketplace scam

Police warn if a high-end item's price online appears too good to be true - it probably is. Photo...
Police warn if a high-end item's price online appears too good to be true - it probably is. Photo: Getty Images
People buying or selling electronics on Facebook are being warned to be wary of scams and fake profiles.

Christchurch police say they've dealt with five cases in the city recently where offenders create a fake Facebook profile and advertise a high-end iPhone or iPad on Facebook Marketplace at a price that’s almost too good to be true.

The offender then arranges a meeting place to make the sale.

However, in these cases no sale has taken place and multiple victims have had their own cell phones or cash stolen from them.

In other cases, police said offenders will contact the seller of a genuine listing, arrange a time and place to meet and then steal the item instead of paying for it.

Police are working under the assumption that the five incidents are linked and involve the same offenders.

In one case on September 23, a person agreed to meet the offender to sell an iPad they had listed on Facebook Marketplace.

Two offenders met with the victim and run away with the iPad - and have then assaulted the victim who has given chase.

When deciding to purchase items off social media, police said buyers should take basic precautions. They include: 

• Insist on meeting to conduct transactions and examine the item before completing the transaction. Meet in a public place, and take a friend. DO NOT go into someone’s house or allow them into yours. DO NOT deposit money into another person’s account before you have received the item.

• Learn more about the person you are buying from or selling to. Note: You can tap on a person's profile on the product listing page to see if you have any friends in common, their marketplace activity, and any ratings they may have received.

• Protect yourself from online scams. Check out:

https://www.netsafe.org.nz/advice/scams

https://www.police.govt.nz/advice-services/cybercrime-and-internet

www.nzba.org.nz/consumer-information/smarter-banking/fraud-safety-cybersecurity/

• Ensure friends and family, especially anyone vulnerable, understand what to do to protect themselves. Be the person to provide that ongoing support and advice.

• Trust your instincts – if it’s too good to be true or sounds like a scam, it probably is.

New Zealand Police have partnered with Facebook, Netsafe and CERT to highlight the variety of online scams offenders use.

To find out more about common types of scams, visit https://scamgallery.co.nz/welcome/

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a scam should make a report to: Police on 105 or visit their local station.

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