Warning issued after spate of Facebook marketplace scams in Christchurch

Source: 1 NEWS

Police have issued a warning for people buying or selling electronics on Facebook to be wary of scams and fake profiles following a spate of incidents in Christchurch.

Messenger service WhatsApp is also down.

It comes after the city saw five cases where sellers created fake Facebook profiles to advertise high-end iPhones or iPads on the social media platform at a price that appears "almost too good to be true", police said in a media release. 

The offender then arranges a meeting place to make the sale, only to have the victims' own phones or cash stolen from them.

Other incidents saw offenders stealing items from the sellers of genuine listings.

"Canterbury police are working under the assumption that the five incidents are linked and involve the same offenders," the statement read. 

In one case, a person agreed to meet the suspect to sell an iPad they had listed on Facebook Marketplace on September 23. 

Two people met with the victim and fled with the iPad, before assaulting the victim after they gave chase.

"If you decide to purchase off social media, we encourage you to take basic precautions to protect yourself," police said. 

How to protect yourself from online scams

• Insisting on meeting in a public place, preferably with a friend, to conduct transactions and examining the item before completing the transaction

• Not entering a person's home or allowing them to enter yours 

• Not depositing money into another person’s account before receiving the item

• Learning more about the person you are buying from or selling to, such as their marketplace activity, any ratings they may have received and if you have any mutual friends

• Trust your instincts – if it’s too good to be true or sounds like a scam, it probably is

Further information on common types of scams can be found here.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a scam has been advised to make a report to police on 105 or visit their local police station.