Police are urging people in Hawke’s Bay buying second-hand goods online to be wary of a proliferation of scams in the lead-up to Christmas.
A 25-year-old Napier man who operated one of these scams was sentenced to nine months’ home detention in Hastings District Court on Wednesday.
The convicted man, Morgan Neera, used fake profiles to “sell” a caravan on Facebook Marketplace, with the person purchasing it depositing the money into a third party’s account. The purchasers would never hear from him again.
Detective Constable Sharon Codyre says the victims, who were from throughout the North Island, lost large quantities of money that has not been recovered.
“We are receiving numerous reports of people being taken advantage of, usually when paying for goods they haven’t viewed,” Detective Constable Codyre says.
“Our advice is to never take a seller for their word, no matter how legitimate they may sound. Do some research about them first and see if their claims stack up.”
Police encourage people to take some basic precautions when buying online:
• Insist on meeting in person to conduct transactions and examine the item before completing the transaction.
• Meet in a public place and take a friend; do not go into someone’s house or allow them into yours.
• Do not deposit money into another person’s account before you have received the item.
• Learn more about the person you are buying from or selling to – you can tap on a person’s profile on the product listing page to see if you have any friends in common, their marketplace activity, and any ratings they may have received.
• Ensure friends and family, especially anyone vulnerable, understand what to do to protect themselves, and provide ongoing support and advice.
• Trust your instincts – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Neera was convicted of eight counts of obtains by deception and one of engaging in a money laundering transaction.