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Police warn of fake social media accounts selling goods

Rick Bourne of Southern District Investigation Support Unit:

Southern Police have noticed an increase in the number of people advertising items through Facebook with no intention of supplying the goods to the purchaser.

Rick Bourne says that the sellers often use their own, an alias or fake profile using made up or stolen identification documents or even an unregistered company to advertise the goods.

There have been many cases of these types of offences.

Often sellers communicate only through Facebook with the buyer, who will then deposit cash or funds into an account without actually speaking to, or confirming the identity of the person they are giving the money to.

“We recommend buying from reputable and verified businesses as they offer a greater level of protection, but if you are using social media sites then make sure to confirm their identity before completing the sale.

Keep yourself and your family and friends safe.

You can do this by asking the seller for their cell phone number and ringing them to confirm the purchase, as well as asking their full name.

When talking with potential sellers on the phone get them to switch to a video call and take a screenshot of the person you are talking to and record their number.

Make sure you ring them and not the other way round.

Do not give out your phone number and make the seller give you theirs first.

If they make up an excuse, do not engage with them no matter how tempting the purchase.

This is a great prevention opportunity so share it with everyone,' says Rick.

"In email exchanges, check the legitimacy of emails by checking the IP address of the sender online through a web search engine.

The IP addresses of originators can be found in the header of the email.

If you are unsure of how to do this you can go online to find out.

Right click on the sender's email address as it may say it is from a specific company but often, having clicked on it, the name of the company will be within a longer email address created solely for the benefit of fooling you.

"If it’s a significant amount of money, have a bank cheque made out to their full name as this can only go into their named account and will prove the identity of the seller or their respective account if they are trying to scam you.

Do not think though that you will get your money back, unfortunately you won't.

What is important is for you all to change your mindset and consider, if this is a fake purchase can I afford to lose my hard earned money?"

“If you suspect a seller may not be legitimate, do not complete the purchase and report the matter to the Police and when reporting it but make sure you have the details of the seller and the account number handy.

You may later be asked for copies of the documents supplied, but you can directly upload these into your file by visiting www.crl.govt.nz and using the file reference number given to you," says Rick.

Police want everyone to ‘Be safe’ and ‘Feel safe’ as these offences can have an impact on a person’s financial and mental wellbeing.

Please report any call you believe to be a scam buy by ringing 105 with the details of the number and time of the call.

"Please do not be the next victim.

Never buy from anyone unless you trust that it is a genuine sale from a genuine seller.

Together we can combat this so talk about it with your friends and family.

The young and elderly are more at risk but we have had a range of ages duped.

Awareness is key," says Rick.

Information on other scams that are currently operating can be found on the Consumer Protection NZ website: https://www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/general-help/scamwatch (link is external)

Consumer Protection NZ, along with Netsafe, also provides helpful advice and information about keeping safe online.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam, in person, over the phone or online, should immediately report it to their bank, and then to their local Police.


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