How many times can you sell the same item online before the long arm of the law catches up with you?
In the case of a New Zealand woman from the town of Masterton, near Wellington, the answer is 47 times over a 13-day period. And that’s only the confirmed number of fraudulent sales, as police believe some victims may be too embarrassed to come forward.
Officers arrested and charged the 32-year-old female following an investigation into offending on Facebook Marketplace.
They began looking into her activities after they received a report from a member of the public who purchased a multitool on Marketplace for NZ$95, but never received the item.
Officers reviewed accused woman’s bank statements
As part of the investigation, police reviewed a number of bank statements relating to the offender and found she had sold the multitool on no less than 47 occasions in almost two weeks.
The woman has been given bail and will appear in Masterton District Court on 19 August in relation to this online offending, as well as shoplifting offences.
But Senior Sergeant Ian Osland said investigators were particularly concerned over the number of people who fell victim to the scam and did not report it.
“Many people choose not to out of embarrassment at being deceived, however they should be assured that police will take any report seriously,” Osland stated.
“This is not an uncommon occurrence and is not limited to multitools – but to cell phones, vehicles, electronics and other goods sold on Facebook Marketplace.”
Only buy through regulated websites, NZ Police advise
In general, New Zealand Police advise people to only buy and sell off regulated websites such as Trade Me.
“We also urge people not to hand over the goods they are selling until the payment has been cleared and the money is in their bank account,” Osland advised.
“Verify the funds are cleared if you can with your bank. If you are buying items, avoid doing so on social media and purchase them from legitimate stores or companies.”
Police say you should also insist on meeting to conduct transactions and examine the item before completing the transaction. Meet in a public place and take a friend. Under no circumstances go into someone’s house or allow them into yours.