Police are urging victims of a scam on Facebook Marketplace to come forward following reports of people transferring money for a tiny home that doesn’t exist.
Multiple people have been contacted by a user claiming to be selling a tiny home worth $10,000.
A police spokesperson said victims who asked to view the tiny house before purchasing it were being told there were multiple people interested who were offering to transfer the money now.
“This seems to pressure the victims, who immediately agree to buy it quickly before the other people get in. The seller advertises the tiny house as a ‘first in, first served’.”
Once the victim has transferred the money, the scammer deletes the listing and all the messages and blocks them.
“The seller has provided a fake address and phone number to a few victims. Both of these are occupied by real people who know nothing about the scam. A phone number provided by the seller belongs to a woman who has explained that she has had about seven other people calling her about the tiny house.”
The oldest report the police have received relating to this account was on October 6. Police received multiple reports around this time. However, they were seeking any reports of similar scams coming from this account.
“To our knowledge, [the] majority of the reports made to police have come from victims in the Waikato area. It is likely there are more victims out there, and we are hoping that knowing other people have been affected, people will be comfortable to come forward,” the spokesperson said.
Anyone affected by this scam is encouraged to contact police on 105 and quote file number 231007/7573.
Ways to protect yourself:
- 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.
- Ensure friends and family, especially anyone vulnerable, understands 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.
If you believe you are or have been a victim of fraud, contact police at https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105, or call police on 105 and report the matter.
If you have handed over your bank details, contact your bank and immediately suspend your account.
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