Police warn against online vehicle sales scam

Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

Auckland, November 21, 2020

                              Waitemata District Police Detective Senior Sergeant Callum McNeill

The Police have appealed to the public to be aware of a scam involving purchase of vehicles advertised and sold on the Facebook marketplace.

Waitemata District Police Detective Senior Sergeant Callum McNeill said that during the past 12 months, the Police have received more than 50 reports from vehicle owners who have been scammed after listing vehicles on this online platform.

Nine people charged

“Nine people have been charged with dishonesty offences in relation to these cases as Police continue to investigate these complaints across Tāmaki Makaurau. In these scam reports, members of the public report that a person has purchased a vehicle from them after they listed it on Facebook marketplace,” he said.

The modus operandi

Explaining the modus operandi of the Scam, McNeill said that the purchaser will pay the owner by cheque and the funds will then show as “pending” in the seller’s bank account. The cheques are subsequently dishonoured or reversed due to insufficient funds three to six days later.

“By this time the vehicle is already in the possession of the scammer, who has typically on-sold the vehicle to another member of the public. The victim will attempt to contact the scammer again, however the offender will block the seller or deactivate their Facebook account so they cannot be contacted,” McNeill said.

Risk awareness

He said that the Police want the public to be wary of the risks of selling vehicles on unregulated websites such as Facebook marketplace.

“Police have noticed a significant increase in reports from victims in these scams in the past year and we take these matters seriously. We want the community to be cautious when accepting payments by cheques. You should not hand over possession of your vehicle until the payment has been cleared and is no longer showing as pending in your bank account,” he said.

McNeill said that the Police recommend the use of regulated marketplace websites such as TradeMe. He also asked victims of this scam to report to the Police.

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