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News / Police warn online car sellers to be aware of fraudsters

Police warn online car sellers to be aware of fraudsters

Police warn online car sellers to be aware of fraudsters

Posted November 20, 2020
Emergency Services

Media Release: Detective Senior Sergeant Callum McNeill

Police are warning the public to be aware of a common scam involving the purchase of vehicles being sold on Facebook marketplace.

In the past 12 months, Police have received more than 50 reports from vehicle owners who have been scammed after listing vehicles on this online platform.

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.

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 3-6 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.

Detective Senior Sergeant Callum McNeill says 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.

“We would also recommend that people selling vehicles online use regulated marketplace websites such as Trade Me.”

Anyone who has been a victim of this scam should make a report to Police.