Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Scambusters launch website


Scambusters launch website

A group of traders on New Zealand’s largest online auction venue, Trade Me, have launched their own scam prevention website, www.scambusters.co.nz.

The group have been identifying scam auctions on TradeMe for the past year and posting notices on the site’s message boards to warn other traders and to gather enough ‘votes’ on the site’s “Make A Complaint” button to have the scam auctions withdrawn.

As the site grew, the number of scams increased and their voluntary efforts became overly taxing on the individuals. The group posted a message to TradeMe suggesting an IP address block method of Scam Prevention.

“The most frequent scam auctions are posted from Romanian IP addresses,” says Scambuster Alf West, a Queenstown filmmaker. “The Romanians usually list about ten scams each day and up to fifty on a busy night.”

The group claims its solution (see below), aimed at preventing foreign scammers from registering new memberships, would kill 90% of fraudulent auctions overnight.

TradeMe’s founder Sam Morgan responded via the message board in February that, “Posting dodgy auctions on the message board is a good way to make people aware of the problem.” He urged the team to use the complaint button on each auction but stated, “It’s you (sic) message board though, so you can discuss the site issues here openly.”

However, the Scambusters have found themselves at odds with the auction site’s management since then. In the first three days of May, TradeMe banned four of the five core members of the group from posting on the site’s message boards and a further two new recruits a few days after. On the 5th of May, the company launched a new initiative called “Community Watch”, a re-vamped form of “Make a Complaint.”

TradeMe claims that the group was “spamming” the message boards in notifying each scam as an individual message.

“Not true,” counters Scambuster Clive Hill, a Christchurch company director. “One of our members was banned for posting 13 scams, another for a mere four posts and one person for warning of a single scam. The company’s reaction was very heavy-handed. And `Community Watch’ is just a fancy name for a slightly modified feedback form with the word `scam’ removed,” he adds.

“We understand that TradeMe would prefer their site to be seen as a happy place where the sky is always blue. A safe venue for online trading,” says West. “However kiwis are being ripped off by scams on TradeMe regularly and we would like the company to take responsibility for the problem.”

“We’re certainly not anti-TradeMe” he says. “We love the site and between us we’ve clocked up over 3.400 successful trades.”

In response the group have set up their own website which profiles typical scams and provides advice for safe online trading. You can download a free eBook – “The Anatomy of a Scam” and there’s a forum where free and open discussion is encouraged.

“It’s a direct reaction to TradeMe’s silly attitude,” says West. “Silencing the messengers has done nothing to reduce the problem. The Romanians are still posting scams and attracting victims. We believe that by sanitising their site of the ‘S-word’ TradeMe management is doing its members a grave disservice. We sincerely hope that they’ll use some common sense and rethink their position. ”

* Technical info – the Scambuster’s solution IP Lookup (TradeMe already records this info – see their terms & conditions) combined with a lockout of the Romanian IP blocks (public information) and compulsory Address Verification for overseas sellers.

Possible Story angles They’re an unusual group of people who have never met in person – only via cyberspace. There’s a company director from Christchurch, a Queenstown web developer, the CEO of a community organisation from Auckland, a management consultant from Kapiti, a housewife from Oamaru and a real estate agent from Lower Hutt. And around fifty others who have volunteered to help.

The Auctioneers’ Act is being amended at present. TradeMe claim that they’re exempt from the act as they’re merely providing a “venue” for online trading. Will that change with the revised Act?

IP Lookup – how reliable is it in this case? Can determined scammers ever be locked out of a site completely? And just how clever are the Romanian scammers anyway?

Banning your critics is an unusual management technique not often seen in New Zealand. Will it ever be widely adopted? Could many companies get away with it?

The Scambusters warned TradeMe about a large-scale local scam (see ‘Shakma Scam’ info on the website) while it was still running. The company decided there was nothing wrong and allowed sixty auctions to run to completion. The fraudster got away with $20,000 and promptly fled the country. Should the company share any responsibility for the loss?


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Statistics: Business Research And Development Up 29 Percent

Computer services and machinery manufacturing firms led the way in an almost 30 percent lift in business spending on research and development (R&D) in 2016, Stats NZ said today. Businesses spent $1.6 billion on R&D in 2016, up $356 million (29 percent) from 2014. More>>

ALSO:

China Shopping: NZ-China FTA Upgrade Agreed Among Slew Of New Deals

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and China Premier Li Keqiang signed off a series of cooperation deals spanning trade, customs, travel and climate change and confirmed commencement of official talks on an upgrade to the nine-year old free-trade agreement between the two countries. More>>

ALSO:

Media: TVNZ Flags Job Cuts To Arrest Profit Decline

Chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the changes were aimed at creating "a sustainable future video content business for TVNZ in an ever-changing media market." More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: Wheeler Keeps OCR At 1.75%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.75 percent, as expected, and reiterated his view that the benchmark rate doesn't need shifting for the foreseeable future. More>>

ALSO:

Trade Plans: Prime Minister's Speech To International Business Forum

"The work to improve public services, build infrastructure, and solve social problems is possible only because we have enjoyed sustained, solid economic growth. A big reason for that is the Government’s consistent agenda of economic reform, and our determination to open up more opportunities for trade with the world." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news