Christchurch police are warning people buying and selling items on Facebook Marketplace to be wary of scammers.
Christchurch police say they dealt with five cases where people created a fake Facebook profile and advertised a high-end iPhone or iPad on Facebook Marketplace. At a price police say was "almost too good to be true".
A meeting place is then made to make the sale, however, police say a sale isn't made and the buyer's items are stolen.
"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 say scammers will contact a Marketplace seller and arrange a time and place to complete the sale but they then steal the item and do not pay.
In September police say a seller arranged a time and place to sell an iPad they had listed on Marketplace. However, when the seller went there the two scammers ran away with the iPad and then assaulted the seller who chased after them.
Canterbury Police are working under the assumption that the five incidents
are linked and involve the same offenders.
How to protect yourself
When deciding to purchase items off social media, police say buyers should take basic precautions.
- 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. 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.
- Ensure friends and family, especially anyone vulnerable, understand what
to do to protect themselves. Be the person to provide that ongoing support
- Trust your instincts – if it's too good to be true or sounds like a scam, it probably is.
- Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a scam should make a report to Police on 105 or visit their local station.