13 May 2020

Victims lose thousands to fake retailer scams on Facebook

1:37 pm on 13 May 2020

Dozens of people have fallen victim to offshore scammers posing as New Zealand retailers on Facebook.

Late night internet addiction or working late man using laptop computer in the dark

Photo: 123rf

Police say the victims have lost thousands of dollars each after paying for electronics that didn't arrive.

The businesses are listed on Facebook and falsely claim to have stores in the lower South Island. They usually purport to sell cellphones, laptops and tablets.

People are asked to transfer money into a New Zealand bank account and the goods are never received.

Inquiries by Auckland police found the scam is being run offshore in south east Asia.

The scammer will contact someone in New Zealand via Facebook Messenger and offer them a "job".

The victims are asked to deposit money into this person's New Zealand bank account, and the person in New Zealand is then instructed to transfer the funds into the offshore bank account.

Detective Senior Sergeant Nikki Latimer said cautioned people against accepting a job online for an unknown company and said people should check any job offer via Facebook or Messenger is legitimate.

"If the business claims to be New Zealand-based, google the business and contact them via the information on their website. If the contact details are not legitimate or don't exist then it's likely to be a scam.

"Likewise if the business offering you a job online is based overseas, or proposing that your bank account be used to process payments - simply avoid it."

Anyone buying electronic goods from online companies on Facebook should also mak further enquiries avoid being scammed.

"These businesses may look legitimate on the surface but will typically avoid listing contact phone numbers so there's no one you can actually speak to," says Detective Senior Sergeant Latimer.

People who think they have lost money in a scame should contact their bank, then phone the police line 105 or report it to police on 105.police.govt.nz

Anyone knowingly participating in a fraudulent scam risks being prosecuted.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs